Is there room in Americans’ Thanksgiving celebrations for both thankfulness and mourning?That challenging question arose as my colleagues...
Minnesota doesn’t typically come to mind when you think about slavery and the Civil War. It’s also not a place that’s figured into the...
The Transcontinental Railroad was completed 150 years ago, in 1869. In 1800s America, some saw the railroad as a symbol of modernity and...

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Gordo comic strip. Uncle Mio (wearing a suit and carrying a box of chocolates bouquet of flowers) talks to his nephew, who explains the qualities of different types of flowers. Behind the two figures appear precise, scientific diagrams of flowers.
On February 3, 2008, San Francisco Chronicle writer Wyatt Buchanan reflected on the life of Gustavo "Gus" Arriola, creator of the comic...
Martha Raye in conversation with members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. Raye and the soldiers sit outside on benches.
Around 1966, Dr. Carl Bartecchi was serving as an army flight surgeon in the Mekong Delta in South Vietnam. When units in his area engaged...
A woman delivers a presentation in front of a large group of seated people. The stage is filled with various electrical appliances, as well as a large banner with the text, "Electricity, your helper, convenient, safe, economical," as well as as a smaller poster titled "Electric Cooking ABCs."
Louisan Mamer, known as the First Lady of the REA, spearheaded the expansion of women’s roles in business and leadership through her work...
Conservator sews linen thread along the spine of the Caramelo Deportivo album
In preparation for an exhibition, all objects undergo a thorough assessment of their condition. Conservators determine whether the objects...
Cover of the Caramelo Deportivo baseball card album decorated with illustrations of player and related baseball ephemera
Caramelo Deportivo baseball card album after treatment by conservation technician Verónica Mercado Oliveras. The album contains cards of...
Two images. On the left, a small metal badge, decorated with an engraved star and other small line flourishes. The main engraving reads "Niagra, F. C., No. 8, 1861, W. P. P." On the right, an ornamental silver trumpet.
It’s late winter of 2006 and an ornate silver speaking trumpet is on offer at a prestigious New York City auction house. The engraved...
Dozens of women seated behind rows of desks in a large office space
In 1967, the magazine Cosmopolitan featured an article about the growing number of job opportunities for women in computer programming. In...
Four images. Leather pants and jeans, orange and white Cuban rumba dress, a Pittsburgh Pirates baseball jersey with the player number 21, and a margarita machine decorated with faux-wood paneling.
The National Museum of American History has over 2 million items in its collections, spanning every topic you could think of. And from...
Wagon panels with faded artwork advertising a traveling production of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, leaning against a wall outside a building
During my time at the museum’s object conservation lab, I discovered that a set of painted panels in the museum’s collection had quite a...
Los Boricuas jersey, with initials SS, the team name, and the the team's cartoon mascot, a stylized coqui frog in a baseball uniform and helmet, standing at bat
Custom uniforms display cultural pride and signal Latino presence and excellence in baseball, America’s pastime. The colorful jerseys and...
Anna Dickinson, seated
On a Saturday evening in January 1864, abolitionist Anna Dickinson stood inside the Hall of Representatives looking out into the U.S. House...
Cartoon illustration of the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall buried underneath stacks of crates and barrels marked with the initials, "TR."
“The East African Express is Arriving” pen and ink drawing by Clifford Kennedy Berryman, dated August 25, 1909 (GA.12195)This pen and ink...
Glass tube with label for helium inside a wooden box, adjacent to the box's removed lid
This glass tube, part of the museum’s collection, once contained a sample of helium. Its paper label reads, “HELIUM / SIR W. RAMSAY, K.C.B...
Cher Ami
This summer marks the centennial of a bird—possibly the most famous pigeon in history—going on display at the Smithsonian. A representative...
Group of people led by Dr. Marie Curie and President Harding walking down steps at the White House
One hundred years ago Marie Curie stood among the rose bushes, the press, and a crowd of White House guests, holding a golden key. The key...
Case showing changes in girls' uniforms in exhibition, Girlhood: It's complicated
"Girlhood (It’s complicated)" opened to the public on October 9, 2020.Three years ago our museum convened a diverse group of scholars and...
Detail of ten dollar note showing illustration of an interiror iron foundry with figures working
A sudden tragedy thrust Rebecca Lukens into the family business and into history, making her the nation’s first woman industrialist and the...
Photo of the Capitol Building from the National Mall, with a person in a military uniform walking in the foreground
On January 6, my wife and I watched the live news broadcasts in disbelief at the scenes unfolding on television, as a violent mob stormed...
Jessica Govea
As a little girl, Jessica Govea had become accustomed to rising early and making her way to the fields with her family. During the cotton...
Isabella Aiukli Cornell’s prom dress
For many high school students in the United States, prom is considered one of the most highly anticipated events of the school year....
Sponges of diverse shapes and colors arranged in a line
While the iconic egg-shaped Beautyblender sponge is wildly popular and used by makeup professionals and everyday people from all...
Carlos Martinez
When he reflected later in life on why, as a young man, he chose to enlist during wartime, Carlos Martinez said that avoiding service was...
Note with headless horseman
After the end of World War I, Germany was in economic crisis and was unable to provide enough currency for its citizens. In response,...
Theodore Roosevelt on a beach
Within a gallery stands a rifle once presented to Theodore Roosevelt. It is perhaps an odd gift, considering that it was given to him with...
Boycott Grapes button
Until the successes of the United Farm Workers (UFW) in the 1960s, agriculture was one of the last industries to hold out on unionization...
Desert Camo bat
Custom Baret bat, Woodbridge, Virginia, 2018Gift of Juan Baret Bate Baret personalizado, Woodbridge, Virginia, 2018Donación de Juan...
Medal with Christopher Columbus
In October 1792, the United States of America was still a new country, not even a decade old, fresh from a complete government overhaul...
Debate chairs from the 1960 election
Presidential debates first became part of the campaign landscape when John Kennedy and Richard Nixon sat across from each other in 1960. It...
Joan Trumpauer Mulholland
Last year I began working as a stage manager for Join the Student Sit-Ins, an interactive theater program at the museum set in 1960. The...
Frank A. Taylor examines the construction of the National Museum of History
A mere 75 years ago aboard the battleship Missouri, representatives of the Japanese Emperor, his government, and the Imperial General...
Street signs in Washington, D.C.
The writers of the Black Life in Two Pandemics series have examined the deep roots of racial violence in the Midwest and the connections...
Posters in Washington D.C.
IntroductionOur political and legal systems are inextricably intertwined with and fueled by structural racism. This legacy predates the...
“George Floyd,” by Peyton Scott Russell
In March 2020, the Urban Art Mapping research team, a small group of faculty and students from the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul,...
Man carrying a box outside a food distribution center
With the murder of George Floyd and the ensuing civil unrest, historians, educators, and the general public once again fixated on the “long...
Destruction by fire of Pennsylvania Hall
"Destruction by fire of Pennsylvania Hall, the new building of the Abolition Society, on the night of the 17th May," courtesy of Library of...
Black Life in Two Pandemics: Histories of Violence
George Floyd’s Memorial Day 2020 killing by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin shook the nation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the...
Room with medical staff and patients in Freedmen's Hospital
Racism has been a public health emergency in America for over 400 years. We can call it a crisis or disaster or something else entirely....
Dumbo ride car
How do you get an elephant into a museum? If you’re the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, the technical answer is “through...
During the cool pre-dawn hours of August 2, 1995, a large multiagency task force led by the California Department of Industrial Relations...
On June 18, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the Trump administration could not rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA...
After months of uncertainty, Major League Baseball will begin a shortened season at Nationals Park. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the...
For John Lewis, activism for social change was a communal activity. He believed that people coming together to mentor, protest, and learn...
For Michael and Robert, the quick peck before a walk around the lake with Michael’s son was an ordinary moment. For J. Ross Baughman, it...
Chef Lena Richard and others filming a television segment
Lena Richard was an African American chef who built a culinary empire in New Orleans during the Jim Crow era. She reshaped public...
Newspaper clipping
Note: While history shouldn’t require a spoiler alert, this blog does contain some minor ones regarding the HBO series Watchmen.“You know...
Anti-Suffrage pendant
The trouble began soon after well-known social reformer Emily Bissell had finished her remarks at the meeting of the National Association...
Maybe this painting looks familiar. A long row of red-coated soldiers. A cloud of gun smoke engulfing the street. Falling bodies.Detail of...
Mary Walker
Mary Edwards Walker defied convention in just about everything she did. Walker was uncompromising in her beliefs about herself and the...

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