William H. Yeingst

Chair and Curator

B.A., Allegheny College, 1976

Research Specialties 
  • American social history
  • Household and family life with an emphasis on domestic furnishings

Current Projects:

  • 18,000 square foot introductory exhibition on American history, opening 2007
  • Small exhibitions on collecting artifacts from September 11, 2001, and childhood and toys
  • Acquisition of a 1949 ranch model house from Levittown, New York
  • Conducts research, collects objects, and answers public inquiries for the Division of Social History's Domestic Life Collection

Past Projects:

  • Numerous exhibitions on topics such as the sit-in at the Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth lunch counter; the "Sixties;" Levittown, New York; American families in photographs; daily life after the American Revolution; collecting September 11, 2001.
  • Collecting initiatives to preserve and document the events of September 11, 2001, American domestic furnishings, family history; and youth cultures.
  • Television appearances such as This Old House; CBS Sunday Morning, PBS Live
Awards, Honors, and Special Recognition 

Historic Deerfield Summer Fellowship in American Decorative Arts, 1975

Professional Affiliations 

The George Washington University

Parsons School of Design


“Curating the Recent Past” in Henderson and Kaeppler, ed. Exhibiting Dilemmas: Issues of Representation at the Smithsonian, Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997.

The article uses the acquisition and exhibition of the Greensboro Woolworth lunch counter as a lens for examining, collecting, and interpreting the recent past. Explores the role of memory; meaning and representation; curatorial roles and obligations; politics; and race in doing public history at the Smithsonian Institution.

"Exhibiting A New Icon" with Lonnie Bunch, in Increase and Diffusion: A Smithsonian Web Magazine, 1997.

A discussion of some of the issues faced in exhibiting an icon of the American civil rights movement.

"Sitting for Justice" in Increase and Diffusion: A Smithsonian Web Magazine, 1996.

Learn how a portion of the Woolworth lunch counter from Greensboro, North Carolina, became part of the American civil rights movement collection at the National Museum of American History.