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Note: While history shouldn’t require a spoiler alert, this blog does contain some minor ones regarding the HBO series Watchmen.“You know...
Maybe this painting looks familiar. A long row of red-coated soldiers. A cloud of gun smoke engulfing the street. Falling bodies.Detail of...
The Stonewall uprising began June 28, 1969, in response to a police raid at The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York, and has since...

Blog Posts in "From the Collections"

Singer/composer Abbey Lincoln drew strength from emancipation–her own and the liberation of others fighting for social justice. When she...
Ah, the joy to be savored in a relaxed, idle summer evening—ice-cold lemonade in hand, the condensation dripping off your glass, fireflies...
For a good part of the twentieth century, Harlem’s Apollo Theater was one of the most prestigious, important, and well-known venues for...
Editor's Update: See the February 2011 issue of Prototype to learn more about this topic. One of the best parts about being a...
An extravagantly appliqued mid-19th century cotton quilt has been placed on exhibit in an artifact wall case on the first floor of the...
They say the devil is in the details and as a student in the Humanities I know all too well how difficult it can be to get those...
Black and white portrait of small girl with large white bow in her hair, holding rolled paper in hand, sitting in wheel chair
By Curator Katherine Ott There are a lot of people in town this week for the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. And...
Roger White is no Indiana Jones, but as an associate curator specializing in automobiles, he has hunted down his fair share of treasures....
Boy Scout scarf in blue and yellow
 The Boy Scouts of America was incorporated on February 8th, 1910. In celebration of the organization’s 100th anniversary, Boy Scouts...
I am currently working on a book project—The Changing Face of Portrait Photography: From Daguerreotype to Digital , due out in March 2011—...
Black base with Pac-Man logo. On top, large yellow Pac-Man.
A few weeks ago, I discovered, like millions of others, that Google had changed their online logo again to commemorate another special...
As a film archivist at the museum’s Archives Center, I have seen our collections used in many ways. Of course, the most traditional use is...
Technicolor camera with large lens, camera casing, and four wheels
Every day can be an adventure for the curators, specialists, interns, and volunteers who spend their days digging and researching in the...
This past weekend the iconic actor and member of the counter culture Dennis Hopper passed away. In 2006, Robert Weingarten had the...
Black and white photo of a man and woman looking at pages of paper.
Lena Horne was an American treasure, a cultural icon whose career achievements and social legacy challenged and transformed America’s...
One of the fun parts of being a curator is deciding exactly what to collect. Sometimes it’s easy—the original helium-neon laser that was...
Throughout the spring, the blog has offered up a variety of topics related to freedom. We often use the term to indicate political...
Margarita machine
Why is this homely little brown box, with its sign that identifies it as the "World's First Margarita Machine," living at the Smithsonian?...
Our picture of the universe has changed dramatically during human history. 500 years ago we knew that the Earth was at the center of the...
In 1997, a Washington Post article suggested that “For one evening, the inaugural ball gown is the most important dress in the country.”...
The stress. The mental focus. Getting your mind "in the zone." Fear, worry, doubt.  The waiting! The anticipation! With...
Pink brochure with butterflies on the cover, pack of pills, and document
Only a few weeks into my internship I’ve already learned that the fastest way to create awkward silence, where even the cricket chokes, is...
Jefferson's Bible
You may have heard or noticed that Dan Brown’s latest novel, The Lost Symbol, features Horatio Greenough’s statue of George Washington...
The recording, discovering, and sharing of history is a collaboration that takes place over time with many hands involved. Museums are one...
Food stamps
My first experience with Food Stamps was as a kid, growing up in Peekskill, NY. In the grocery store, my mother would give my sister and me...
Many people have seen black and white photographs of the San Francisco earthquake of 1906. But the earthquake photographs shown below are...
I suppose the first question should be: what’s an old New York State license plate doing in the museum’s computer collection? The second...
Bread-making technology spawned many inventions and patents, like the bread-slicer. While the earliest bread-cutting devices using parallel...
In reality, the English dissidents on board the Mayflower called themselves “saints,” not “pilgrims,” and landed on a beach in Provincetown...
There is no shortage of snake oil in America. Whether sold by politicians as endless campaign promises, or by spammers tempting us with...
A honey spice cake, "Pain d'Epices," created from a recipe made by Julia Child
Today’s post is the thirteenth in a series of weekly Julia Child recipes. This week, curator Helena Wright gets a start on holiday baking...
On the bottom edge of this pigment print (a type of digitally printed photograph) by Robert Weingarten, is the text “29 Oct 69 22:30 Talked...
I was interning at the National Museum of American History when I first encountered the photographic images of Leonard Nadel, who spent...
I’m a bad steampunk. I like pretty things with brass and wood, but I end up injuring myself when I try to build/sew/knit/glue things, with...
Advertising figure made by the National Papier Mache Works of Clinton, Iowa, ca 1900. In the 1958 film Rally ‘Round the Flag, Boys...
I grew up in Colorado. Just about every time I mention that fact to someone, I get asked, “Do you ski?” And for years I would launch into...
I have always liked jigsaw puzzles. When I was five, I spent one weekend putting together every puzzle in my house and then proceeded to...
I did not get my flu shot last fall. The threat of, or at least the media attention about, “avian flu” had abated, and I missed the...
Several weeks ago a brown box full of photographs arrived at “The Smithsonian.” Being that “The Smithsonian” is actually made up of ...
One of the joys of a curator’s job is finding things and telling their stories. We recently found two partial sets of Dutch Sugar Color...
gun in wooden frame
Most people wouldn't expect to find a .36 caliber pistol in the nation's Photographic History Collection. Frankly, neither did I. But in...
Coming into work one Monday morning in November 1996, I strolled by a small exhibit case and noticed that something wasn’t quite right. The...
Earl Shaffer’s battered black journal is small. It had to be, to fit in a rucksack with everything a man needed to walk over 2,000 miles...
It started with a dirty barn. Not that they were the Augean stables; the problem was that the machines available to farmers in 1956 were...
Kiyosato. At first, that name meant to me the Kiyosato Museum of Photographic Arts in Japan. Its director is Eikoh Hosoe, a renowned...
Black and white photo of three men sitting beside a white cloth tent in the woods
This real photo postcard shows three young men enjoying the holiday weekend. The young man on the left has taken the photograph using a...
It’s been five years since I located this striking World War II era portrait of a young Washington, D.C., couple in the Scurlock Studio...
I have long had a great interest in the history of photography and consider myself an expert in that field, so volunteering in the Museum’s...

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