Top 10 posts of 2009

To come up with the top ten “O Say Can You See?” blog posts of 2009 I relied on you, dear readers, to tell me what should make the cut. It was a busy year and the museum’s team of bloggers published more than 150 posts.

2009 Flickr photo by prspect06.

What do you think of this list? Do you have a favorite post that didn’t make the cut?

The ten most-read posts of 2009 were:

  1. Julia Child Recipe of the Week series
    These posts, in which a different museum staffer followed a new Julia Child recipe each week, were so popular that they dominated the list.  I counted the whole series as #1 so we could feature some of our other spectacular content. You're invited to try a recipe yourself and share your experiences with us.
  2. A secret message inside Lincoln’s watch?
    Abraham Lincoln never knew of the message he carried in his pocket. In March, the museum uncovered a secret message hidden inside a pocketwatch for over a century. It's the personal side of history--the story of an ordinary watchman being inspired to record something for posterity. This post includes a photo slideshow and video coverage of the opening of the watch.
  3. Night at the museum
    About 20 museum staffers slept over at the museum on the eve of Inauguration Day.  It was a pleasure and a privilege to welcome the first of our 40,000 plus visitors who had shivered outside waiting for our doors to open.
  4. Your burning questions answered: First Ladies’ dresses
    If you’ve been to the new exhibition, First Ladies at the Smithsonian, you may have found yourself asking: Where are all the other first ladies’ dresses?
  5. The Kennedys’ visit to American history
    During the memorial service for Senator Edward Kennedy in August, several speakers mentioned his love of American history and his son, Ted, Jr. noted that his father was “a civil war buff” who sponsored vacations that left the family, in some cases, “injured and exhausted.” The museum's director recounts the tour he led for the Kennedy clan during their visit in 2006.
  6. Protecting our museums
    Tragedy befell the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in June when Officer Stephen Johns, who had served the museum for six years, was fatally wounded by a gunman. The news was especially shocking to those of us in the museum community because we see museums as safe places, places of enlightenment.
  7. American history 2.0
    During the “Smithsonian 2.0” conference about the future of the Smithsonian’s digital presence, we were reminded that authentic artifacts have a power that will never fully be replaced by their digital facsimiles. What do you think we should be doing to extend the museum experience to virtual visitors?
  8. Video games, Ralph Baer, and my first accession
    Imagine that it’s your first day on the job and your new boss brings you into a storage area filled with papers and strange looking objects, all donated by Ralph Baer, the Father of the Video Game. These are the notes and prototypes that made playing games on your television possible. And now it’s your job to process them.
  9. Historic inauguration, historic multitudes
    While the museum didn't expect all of the millions of inaugural attendees to visit us, we did expect enormous crowds. This post includes useful tips for visiting the museum on especially popular days.
  10. The strangest object in the Photographic History Collection
    Most people wouldn’t expect to find a .36 caliber pistol in the nation’s Photographic History Collection.  It may seem an unlikely match, but the stewardship of the gun within the Photographic History Collection says a lot about the deep and multi-faceted American story that this museum is privileged to tell.

The feedback we’ve received from our readers this year has been both encouraging and helpful in shaping what we cover and how. We hope that in 2010 you will continue to comment on the blog and spread the word to your friends.

Why not get started now? Leave a comment with your suggestions on topics you’d like to see covered on the blog in the future. What artifact, era, historical character, or behind-the-scenes museum topic are you most interested in hearing about?

Dana Allen-Greil is new media project manager at the National Museum of American History.