Podcasts

The Museum is proud to present two podcast series:

  • “History Explorer” takes listeners along on our staff’s intellectual adventures as they conduct exciting research and collect objects—both the iconic and seemingly mundane—to tell compelling stories about American history. Accompanying each episode is a teacher guide and images. Visit the Smithsonian's History Explorer website for more free educational materials.
  • "Prototype Online: Inventive Voices" is produced by the Museum's Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation and features interviews and lectures of renowned inventors and innovators. This series also has a podcast activity guide.

Podcasts will play on most digital music players or computers and are available for download from our website and through Apple iTunes.

June 30, 2014
Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, President Roosevelt issued an executive order which resulted in the removal and imprisonment of over 110,000 ethnic Japanese in camps through the western U.S. Almost two-thirds of those incarcerated were U.S.
March 31, 2014

Why are objects useful teaching tools? How should you choose which objects to use?

March 7, 2014

Patti McGee has a lot of "firsts" to her name--first professional woman skateboarder, first woman inducted into the International Skateboarding Hall of Fame, and--in 1965 at the age of 19--the first skateb

February 18, 2014

Freedom Summer veteran Courtland Cox discusses his work in the civil rights movement, the relationship between the work of Freedom Summer and the recent voter registration requirements, and emphasizes that the challenge of this generation of young people will be the fight for equal access to qua

February 7, 2014

Filmmaker Jacob Rosenberg knows more than a little about the skate world. A former skater himself, Rosenberg grew up with skateboarder Danny Way, whose 2005 jump over the Great Wall of China is the stuff of legend.

January 16, 2014

Harry Clarke, a Museum Freedom School intern, discusses how we should remember Martin Luther King, Jr. 

January 14, 2014

Lemelson Center Fellowships support a wide range of research on the history of invention and innovation.

December 12, 2013

Joy Lyman, a Museum Freedom School intern, hosts this special episode of History Explorer on civil rights activist  Zoharah Simmons.

November 25, 2013

In Part 1 of this interview, W. Bernard Carlson, author of Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age, describes Tesla’s cultural background and childhood in Serbia, his work at Thomas Edison’s lab, and two of Tesla’s best-known inventions--the Tesla coil and the alternating current motor.

November 25, 2013

In Part 2 of this interview, W. Bernard Carlson, author of Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age, discusses Tesla’s invention process, business partners, and mentors. He also offers thoughts on advice that Tesla might have for today’s youth.

November 6, 2013

Nicholas Nchamukong, a Museum Freedom School intern, hosts this special episode of History Explorer on civil rights activist June Johnson.

October 23, 2013

Artist-designer-inventor Adam Harvey explores the aesthetics of privacy through clothing and accessories that block common surveillance technologies, including data mining, facial recognition, and thermal imaging.

September 30, 2013

Harry Clarke, a Museum Freedom School intern, hosts this special episode of History Explorer on civil rights activist Martha Prescott Norman.

September 25, 2013

Robin Logan and Cindy Whitehead talk about their careers as two of the first professional women skateboarders and highlight their recent donations to the collections

September 13, 2013

Whether you've seen him on the cover of a poster, as the central character in a comic, or leading a parade, Uncle Sam is a clear embodiment of the United States. Was Uncle Sam ever a real person? Where did the idea come from?

August 30, 2013

Benjamin Franklin is one of the founding fathers of the United States; he is also widely considered one of the founding fathers of electrical science.

July 25, 2013

At a sock hop in 1958 Bob Casey used two turntables to play music for the crowd.  His system is credited with being the first double-decked audio-system used by a disc jockey.

July 19, 2013

Often incorporating aspects ritual and secrecy, fraternal orders are voluntary associations of men and women that date back to the early 18th century.

July 1, 2013

Trek Bicycles was the first company to incorporate carbon fiber into their bike frames and is also the first bicycle company to explore recycling carbon fiber frames.

May 10, 2013

What do British cattle and Mexican cowboys have to do with the history of Hawaiian folk music? A lot, as it turns out. Slack Key guitar master Reverend Dennis Kamakahi explains in this episode of History Explorer. The episode features songs Rev.

May 1, 2013

What does an 1850s sewing machine patent have to do with the current debates about patent thickets, NPEs, costly litigation, and other modern patent policy concerns?

April 11, 2013

April is Jazz Appreciation Month! This year, the National Museum of American History is highlighting and celebrating the career of John Levy.

March 28, 2013

Recently, the US Military officially opened combat positions to women.  In this episode of History Explorer, curators Bart Hacker and Margaret Vining discuss the roles that women have played in the military throughout history, their research, and this new policy.  

February 22, 2013

In this episode of History Explorer, Sarah Coffee hears from Rayna Green about how curators working on the exhibit, Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950-2000,got out of the museum and did field research to capture the stories of ordinary Americans.

January 18, 2013

Jesse Heitz, King's College, London, discusses how Confederate Secretary of the Navy Stephen Mallory chose to combat the Union navy’s superior number of ships by utilizing the new technology of cladding ships in iron.

January 11, 2013

We’re going to go behind the seams to explore the many layers of the Museum’s latest acquisition—Elphaba’s dress from the Broadway Musical Wicked, which gave a new spin on L. Frank Baum’s well known book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

December 21, 2012

Joan Boudreau, curator of Graphic Arts at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, highlights the role of tabletop portable printing presses in field communications, from rapid production and distribution of urgent military orders to dissemination of more entertaining documents, such

December 20, 2012

In August 2012, the Lemelson Center invited Rodney Mullen, the unquestioned leader and pioneer of street skating, to visit us to discuss the role of invention and innovation in American life.

November 20, 2012

Missed our 2012 New Perspectives symposium, "Political Machines: Innovations in Campaigns and Advertising"? Here's your chance to catch some of the highlights.

November 15, 2012

In this episode of the History Explorer Podcast, Sarah Coffee talks with curator Rayna Green about what we can learn from seemingly simple line drawings about the lives and memories of Plains Indians who lived over 130 years ago.

November 1, 2012

Curators Harry Rubenstein and Larry Bird discuss their trips to the national nominating conventions, how they collect political memorabilia, what questions they ask, and what advice they have for starting your own collection.

October 25, 2012

Get a sneak peek at our 2012 symposium, “Political Machines: Innovations in Campaigns and Elections.” Eric Hintz provides an overview of the event, followed by interviews with Joyce Bedi on technology in political advertising, Eric Hintz on technology in political campaigns, Larry Bi

October 9, 2012

During World War II, America began its largest experiment with guest Labor, The Mexican Farm Labor Program. Commonly called the bracero program, this little known chapter of American and Mexican history touched the lives of countless men, women, families, and communities.

September 18, 2012

When the fashion industry declares that lime green is the new black, or instructs us to "think pink!," it is not the result of a backroom deal forged by a secretive cabal of fashion journalists, designers, manufacturers, and the editor of Vogue.

August 17, 2012

The first Olympic Games began in 776 BC, but the Olympic Games as we know them today started much later—the 19th century.  Learn about the surprising beginnings of the modern Olympic Games and how much has changed since with curator Eric Jentsch.

July 30, 2012

While he is predominantly known for his music, Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famer Graham Nash has been a photographer for much of his life.

July 13, 2012

Like it or not, weather is a major part of our lives, and being able to predict it is extremely useful.

June 14, 2012

Going on a road trip? Along the way, listen to this special edition of the History Explorer podcast. It’s a compilation of some newer and older podcasts around the theme of perhaps the most common car ride entertainment—music.

June 1, 2012

Ken Kimery, the executive director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the Jazz Oral History Project, discusses the Jazz Oral History Project with museum educator Matt Hoffman.

May 29, 2012

Shannon Perich, curator of the photographic collection at the National Museum of American History, discusses the invention of the daguerreotype, a method of early photography.

April 12, 2012

Curator Paul Johnston takes us behind the scenes and talks about several objects related to the Titanic and the efforts to rescue passengers from the 1912 sinking.

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March 16, 2012

Curator Eric Jentsch discusses the history of the Harlem Globetrotters, an all-African American basketball team that barnstormed through segregated America to become the world's most recognizable sports team.

February 25, 2012

Musician Jim Dooley talks about the process involved in creating music for modern video games and how he records and develops his own sounds.

February 17, 2012

Curatorial assistant Noriko Sanefuji interviews Grant Ichikawa, a US veteran who enlisted after being relocated to a Japanese American internment camp with his family in 1942. Allowed to join the army after a need for interpreters, Mr.

January 31, 2012

Has the government’s role in the space program influenced innovation? In this month’s podcast we hear from Howard McCurdy, a professor of public administration and policy at American University and an authority on space history and policy. Dr.

January 30, 2012

Museum curator Paul Johnston discusses the field of underwater archaeology and how the study of shipwrecks can add to our understanding of many areas and eras in US history.

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December 19, 2011

Musuem curator Deborah Warner discusses the role of sugar and various sweeteners in American history. In addition to being a staple in the American diet, sugar's role in our nation's history touches on subjects of science and technology, labor and capital, politics and even popular culture.

November 21, 2011

Curator in the Photographic Collection at the NMAH examines three unique photographic portraits, showing how portraiture and the creation of an image between sitter and photographer, can be used to express many ideas, beyond that of simply a picture of an individual.

November 15, 2011

Matthew Hersch, a lecturer in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania, discusses the history behind the development of the space suit.

October 19, 2011

Staff from the museum's paper conservation lab discuss the preservation and repair behind Thomas Jefferson's personal Bible and other paper objects at the museum.

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September 23, 2011

Jason Bannister, chief artist and scientist of Mechanimal, a robotics company in Pittsburgh, designs, sketches and builds robots. In this episode he shows how inventors can start with a basic pencil on paper sketch and eventually wind up with a truly amazing creation.

September 7, 2011

Former Senior Scholar and Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, James Gardner discusses the museum's collection efforts and object stories follwing the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

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August 22, 2011

Six years ago, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast of the United States. In her wake, a team of curators from the museum set out to collect objects that captured the history of the moment and what it meant to the country.

July 25, 2011

You might remember Crockett Johnson as the writer and illustrator of Harold and the Purple Crayon. In this episode, curator Peggy Kidwell discusses how Johnson's mathematical artwork was inspired by a growing interest amongst Americans in math and science.

July 16, 2011

How did Minnesota spawn a world-class cluster of medical device companies? David Rhees begins the “Medical Alley” hot spot story in 1949, when Earl Bakken co-founded Medtronic as a repair shop for medical electronics, before the company became a world-leading medical device manufacturer.

July 1, 2011

Belasco, professor of American Studies at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a pioneer of the academic food-studies movement, explores a history of the future of food, showing how futuristic visions appear in invention, economic theory, science fiction, policy debates, and more.

June 13, 2011

Katherine Ott, curator in the Division of Medicine and Science discusses this important anniversary and how it fits into the history of both science and our society.


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May 23, 2011

Shannon Perich, associate curator at the National Museum of American History, discusses how portraiture can be used in historical research.

May 1, 2011

What can Julia Child’s kitchen teach us about accessible design? Bess Williamson, Ph.D.

April 11, 2011

Richard Doty, senior curator of the National Numismatics Collection, shares the story of the "Richmond Hoard", an enormous collection of Confederate currency obtained by the museum. With April, 2011 marking the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, Mr.

March 28, 2011

Learn what it takes to develop a great National History Day project from some museum staff members who have judged the national level in the past. National History Day is an annual competition that engages students in the past through their own well-researched projects.

March 2, 2011

Vickie Kloeris, manager of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Space Food Systems Laboratory, develops food for shuttle and International Space Station astronauts.

February 25, 2011

Christopher Wilson talks about the use of Freedom Songs during the Civil Rights Movement and how they are incorporated into public programs on the museum floor.
 

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January 28, 2011

Petrina Foti discusses the history behind the original home video game system and how to study objects such as computer and video games.

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January 27, 2011

Truck Farm began with Ian Cheney’s desire to grow food, without any land of his own, in a big city. The film (and the farm) became a powerful way of exploring inventive agricultural efforts throughout New York City, and showing how farming speaks to young people’s imaginations.

December 14, 2010

Curator William Lawrence Bird on the tradition of American holiday display.

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November 17, 2010

Curator Rayna Green discusses the history of the Thanksgiving holiday and how studying food can teach us about American history.

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November 2, 2010

Invention affects our food and drink in countless ways. This podcast features John Andrade, owner of Meridian Pint, a bar focused on environmental stewardship in Washington, DC, and Jennifer Orgolini, Sustainability Director for the New Belgium Brewing Company in Colorado.

October 10, 2010

Karen Lee discusses the history of currency in America--from using foreign money to the digital age.

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September 29, 2010

Samuel Xavier Carnegie talks about the historic theater and what it's like to be an actor here at the museum.

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September 10, 2010

The U.S. Economic Development Administration is charged with building more globally competitive communities. As U.S.

August 30, 2010

Ken Kimery talks about the life of this fascinating jazz artist and jazz history here at the museum.

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July 14, 2010

Archivist Alison Oswald pushes us down the history aisle in her discussion on the invention of this everyday and oftentimes overlooked invention.

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June 20, 2010

SRI International began as Stanford Research Institute in 1946 and became a problem-solving pioneer in communications, robotics, personal computing, and more.

June 16, 2010

Curator Hal Wallace talks about the development of the laser, an invention that has as many practical uses as portrayals in science fiction and fantasy.

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May 20, 2010

Based in Maryland, the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange works with scientists, historians, and artists to develop dances around cross-disciplinary topics. Liz Lerman compares the invention process with her own creative process, driven by improvisation, testing, collaboration, and questioning.

May 12, 2010

Curator Steven Turner discusses the work and shop of Henry Fitz, America's first commercially successful telescope manufacturer. Includes accompanying resources for classroom use.

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April 10, 2010

How does an abandoned Colorado power plant become a world-class facility for energy solutions, with diverse initiatives ranging from industrial engines to clean cookstoves? Dr.

April 7, 2010

Curator Diane Wendt introduces us to one of the stranger objects in the museum's collection and gives an insight into cod liver oil and its ties to the history of brand marketing. Includes accompanying resources for classroom use.

March 15, 2010

Industrial engineering pioneers and Cheaper by the Dozen parents Frank and Lillian Gilbreth often used their home as a laboratory for experimentation. Lillian evolved in her own right as an inventor, author, industrial engineer and psychologist.

March 10, 2010

Listen as archivist Reuben Jackson discusses the Sioux City Ghosts, an African-American travelling baseball team and swing band from the 1930's. Includes accompanying resources for classroom use.

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February 15, 2010

It was born in the 1880s in West Orange, New Jersey, at Thomas Edison’s state-of-the-art labs.

January 15, 2010

In this episode of the History Explorer podcast series, learn about the invention of this fascinating instrument as Exhibition Program Manager Monica Smith discusses the history of the guitar and those involved in its creation.

January 15, 2010

What do the Beatles, DuPont, and Mickey Rooney have in common? Remo Belli. After World War II, Belli moved to Los Angeles and entered into a thriving community of fellow musicians, entertainers, and entrepreneurs.