American Biography (page 4 of 5)

Treasures of American History

American Biography (page 4 of 5)

Julia Child’s Recipe, 2001

This handwritten recipe for pain de mie, or French sandwich bread, is from the kitchen of celebrity chef Julia Child.

Trained at the Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris, Child brought the taste and techniques of traditional French cuisine into American homes. Her first series, The French Chef, premiered on Boston public television in 1962. Over her forty-year career, she produced numerous cookbooks and television shows, including three filmed in her own kitchen in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2001, Child donated her famous kitchen to the Smithsonian.

Muhammad Ali’s Gloves, around 1975

Prizefighter Muhammad Ali wore these Everlast gloves while defending the second of his three world heavyweight championships.

An inspiring role model to many, the charismatic and outspoken Ali also generated controversy. During the Vietnam War, the champion was stripped of his title and banned from boxing after he refused to be drafted. His objection, based on his Muslim beliefs, was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court. In a heroic comeback, he recaptured the championship in the “Rumble in the Jungle” in Zaire against George Foreman in 1974.

Marilyn Monroe’s Gloves, around 1960

A seductive accessory fit for a sex symbol, these kidskin evening gloves were worn by actress Marilyn Monroe.

Norma Jeane Baker, discovered working in a factory, became Marilyn Monroe when she signed her first movie contract in 1946. While her screen roles emphasized beauty over brains—most famously in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953)—Monroe at times transcended the “dumb blonde” stereotype with gifted comedic and dramatic performances. As a superstar overshadowed by a tragic personal life, she remains one of Hollywood’s most alluring icons.