Dawn Wallace and Richard Barden stood in the museum's objects conservation lab over two shoes. Red. Sequin-covered. Small heels. Petite in...
The history behind a single object can often tell many stories. In 2004 the museum acquired a stock certificate from an early Internet...
In moments of crisis, our first thoughts are usually to get in contact with the people we love. September 11, 2001, was a day when many...

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As our Philanthropy Initiative continues to explore the history of giving, we're eager to share stories of success and failure. This story...
Shirtwaist made by Fisk, Clark & Flagg, about 1910.Shirtwaists, tailored blouses of the 1890s and early 1900s, became especially...
John McCain and other returning soldiers stand before a crowd
This past Saturday, August 25, Arizona Senator John S. McCain III bid the nation farewell. For 60 years, McCain served the country either...
Musical inspiration abounds in the collections and exhibitions around us. As interns in the Making American Music project, we get to follow...
Photo of album cover featuring Aretha Franklin shown in four reflections with stained glass background
Today we're reflecting on the life of singer, songwriter, diva, civil rights activist, and cultural icon Aretha Franklin. Over 100 of...
Sheet music cover, 'Get off the track!'
Turn right at the Batmobile. Take the elevator behind the John Bull locomotive. If you hit Julia Child's kitchen, you've gone too far. My...
Chef adding spice to a dish of food
In 2018, the Smithsonian Food History Team is taking a close look at regional foodways and why they matter. From our monthly live-cooking...
Blue book with photos of show cast and text: “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”
The final episode of “M*A*S*H” was co-written with eight collaborators and directed by star Alan Alda.Despite the photo ops and historic...
"It was now quick work," Maria Mitchell noted. "As the last rays of sunlight disappeared, the corona burst out all around the sun, so...
Uncle Sam, playing a pipe, leads a group of children armed with farming tools. Text reads: “Follow the Pied Piper. Join the United States School Garden Army”
While most of us have heard of the victory gardens of World War II, many of us may not realize that those gardens are seeded in a history...
License plate showing Disney characters and bicentennial years, 1776 and 1976
The month of July plays host to the birthdays of both the United States of America (July 4, 1776) and Disneyland (July 17, 1955). This is...
"Information is your new crop!" proclaimed John Deere's brochure, announcing the company's newly launched GreenStar Precision Farming...
Detail of baseball program with illustration of FDR
All-Star Games of years past that were played in Washington were full of history: the historic arrival of a president, the effective end of...
Sheets wearing the Special Olympics oath on his shirt with Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Courtesy of Dave Sheets.
"Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt."Eunice Kennedy Shriver, founder of Special Olympics, recited this oath at...
An illustration showing crowds of well-dressed people gathering beside their seats in Madison Square Garden, as well as crowds approaching the building from the outside
Piano manufacturer William Steinway kept a diary from 1861 to 1896. It resides in the National Museum of American History’s Archives Center...
A group of musicians performing on stage
What was the Big Apple like in the second half of the 19th century? The daily diary of piano manufacturer William Steinway opens a window...
Hawkeye’s corduroy bathrobe looks purple in real life, but comes across as red on camera.The chronically jet-lagged actor Alan Alda got...
Political campaign buttons with slogans from Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign
June 6, 2018 marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Robert “Bobby” Francis Kennedy. Being a native Northern Virginian, I knew that the...
A medal for the Humane Society of Massachusetts
Young Charles Taylor drowned in June 1818. He was six years, seven months, and 10 days old, the son of Nathan and Sally Taylor. While a...
Silver coin with Queen Cristina of Sweden
With Pride Month celebrations recognizing LGBTQ history and culture throughout the country this June, what better way to highlight the...
A yellowed page with black text announcing the "Grand Concert in aid of the Russian Jewish Refugees"
The arts are "a space where we can give dignity to others while interrogating our own circumstances," Darren Walker, president of the...
Bronze Abraham Lincoln life mask on white background
What is it about Abraham Lincoln and vampires? When Seth Grahame-Smith published his action/horror mash-up novel Abraham Lincoln: Vampire...
A blue and yellow banner that reads "Please give your help" and "Bowl of Rice, Feb. 9, 10, 11,1940-S.F. Chinatown"
Wartime often catalyzes developments in philanthropy. In 2017, the museum added the Bowl of Rice party banner, from fundraising efforts to...
Gold bell topped with eagle design
What’s it like to intern with our Division of Home and Community Life? Elizabeth Wells found herself falling in love with our bell...
The top of a green wine bottle.
Congress passed the National Prohibition Act in January 1919, and a year later, Americans were barred from making, transporting, selling,...
A photograph of Korean food products—rice wine, soy sauce, and galbi (marinated meat) sauce—at a grocery store in Washington, D.C., that I...
Production drawings from Steamboat Willie show Mickey Mouse pulling on a string, tumbling on a bar of soap, and a wheel
It is hard to believe, but Mickey Mouse is celebrating his 90th birthday this year. For an old mouse, he still looks pretty spry! One of...
If you were rich and powerful, from the late 1500s on into the late 1700s, you would show off your wealth by adorning your fashionable...
A white doily with blue embroidery.
Embroidery by the Deerfield Society of Blue and White Needlework is beautiful . . . but that's just the beginning of the story. These...
National anniversaries can be celebrated in many ways—parades, fireworks displays, and, of course, museum exhibitions. In 1983 Congress...
A black wig on a white mannequin head. It is cut flat across the top, and curved on the sides.
April 29, 2018, marks the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Broadway opening of the rock musical Hair. Hair grew out of the counterculture...
Patch with character of Fifinella—a winged woman wearing goggles, frozen mid-jump
On December 7, 1941, Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, drawing the United States into World War II. The very next day U.S. Army troops...
Vibrant purple fabric, with Perkin Mauve written below
I collect souvenirs, as do many friends and family members. Most of these souvenirs have scant monetary value, but we treasure them as...
A blue robotic arm
A visitor to Kenneth Salisbury's Stanford University office can't miss the evidence of his life-long fascination with hands.Kenneth...
President Lyndon Johnson signing the Fair Housing Act, 1968, surrounded by onlookers
Fifty years ago, on April 11, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill that was to end discrimination in most of the nation’s housing...
Oscar Peterson and Norman Granz seated together
During this year’s Jazz Appreciation Month, we are exploring the relationship between jazz and justice by looking at the dynamic ways jazz...
Did that title grab your attention? Great.Happy National Beer Day! When you open your fridge shortly after five o'clock this evening (or...
Norman Granz and Ella Fitzgerald stand side-by-side in front of a microphone
A civil rights protest often invokes the vivid images of sit-ins, boycotts, and marches, but the fight for racial equality took many...
A woman with styled hair leans out a window.
In my first week as a curator at the National Museum of American History, I made a list of women I wished were present in the museum's...
A sepia tone portrait of Madam CJ Walker
A former laundress who became a millionaire from her hair-care company, Madam C. J. Walker (1867–1919) was a leading philanthropist of the...
A white background with a black electric guitar.
James Smithson might be surprised to learn about some of the objects in the collections at the institution he established. The Englishman...
An close up of a section of Giving in America. The ALS ice bucket is evident.
I caught up with collections manager Katharine Klein as she worked on rotating objects in the museum's Giving in America exhibit, to learn...
Woodcut showing figures playing baseball
She found symmetry in baseball. She made a triptych celebrating American agriculture. Her portraits featured the work of human hands, her...
A blue vase with art nouveau style flowers around the lip.
I didn't drool on the objects, but exploring the ceramics storage room as an intern at the National Museum of American History was pretty...
An illustration of a ticket that reads 'Order 9066'
Each year we mark the Day of Remembrance with events recognizing Executive Order 9066, signed on February 19, 1942, after Japan’s bombing...
A white debutante gown with an empire waste and fabric flowers around the neckline.
"I was 17 years old at the time and the dress made me feel so grown up and beautiful," Pauline "Polly" Carver Duxbury wrote about the dress...
Composite of four images, all showing streets and buildings in New Orleans
Celebrating the 300th anniversary of its founding this year, New Orleans is a city whose culture and cuisine have captivated the American...
Wooden Gavel
Museums are full of “firsts”—objects that represent the first person to complete a task, to win an award, to hold a position, to achieve a...

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