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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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...
In March 1995, Ladies Home Journal named Dr. Florence Haseltine one of the ten most important women in medicine. Haseltine, currently...
Maggie Lena Walker was one of the most important Black businesswomen in the nation, and today too few people have heard of her.Maggie Lena...
An illustration of Civil War-era African American troops in the U.S. military posing with the U.S. flag in the background
Every election season in the United States revolves around a set of issues—health care, foreign affairs, the economy. In 1868, at the...
Costume monarch butterfly wings
The museum has created a new collecting initiative focused on how undocumented activists are leading fights for political representation....
A line of people wait outside the Baltimore branch of the NAACP in 1843
In 2020, the Fifteenth Amendment—the first voting rights amendment added to the U.S. Constitution—celebrates its 150th anniversary. You’ve...
This week, the third impeachment trial of a sitting U.S. president begins. As we prepare to bear witness to this historic moment, we...
Happy days are here again banner.
January 17, 1920, was an important day in American history. Why? Because on that day the grand social experiment called Prohibition was...
2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and the 150th anniversary of completion of the...
Have you ever wondered how companies pick their holiday card designs? How do they know what will sell? During the 1880s, Boston...
What weighs a quarter ton, has four wheels, was the first of its kind, and was built in Pennsylvania? The Bantam Jeep Prototype of course!...
An etching of a man with a musket.
“About the prints … I make no comment, save that they were made from the indelible impressions of war. They are not imaginary. I saw them...
A baseball cap.
When George B. Hughes II shipped out for army basic training in September of 1988, both he and the world were more focused on the looming...
A group of people by what appears to be a hot-air balloon.
Q: What’s cylindrical, made of wax, and part of one of history’s great showdowns?A: These records in the museum collection with audio...
The Battle of the Bulge was the largest and bloodiest single battle fought by the United States in World War II. After almost constant...
Codex costume and staff, as worn by Felicia Day in The Guild
Codex costume and staff, as worn by Felicia Day in "The Guild." Costume designed by Sarah Trost; staff designed by Greg Aronowitz....
Tinted portrait of a man.
In November 2019, Private First Class Francis X. McGraw’s Medal of Honor will go on display in our Price of Freedom exhibition. This is his...
You know Kermit, Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, and the rest of the Sesame Street gang. But you might be surprised to learn their...
If you were to buy a donut and cup of coffee at the Donut Bar in the Royal Grand Hotel in Monrovia, Liberia, you would more than likely pay...
Imagine a dark and stormy night. A headless horseman chases a frantic school teacher through the woods. What do you picture? Is it...
What do the popularity of luxury quilts have to do with the difficulty of feeding bugs? More than you think.Our new exhibition Everyday...
A skull.
There we were, two curators sifting centuries-old barrels of mud through a screen, when something surprising rolled out of the muck: a...
The next time you raise a glass of craft beer, make sure you toast former President Jimmy Carter. No, really. You should be offering your...
Pink marble fragment
The view from the western side of the museum is spectacular. It includes the western end of the National Mall, the World War II Memorial,...
Bouquets in front of a gas station.
World Trade Center, September 2001, by Christophe AgouThe attacks of September 11, 2001, shocked the nation. Nearly 3,000 people were...
“The world infrequently notes the passing of a squirrel," announced an Arizona radio station on August 10, 1949. But when it comes to the...
Skateboard
When you think about the culture around skateboarding, you might think about the laid-back vibe of acceptance and inclusion that the sport...
A graphic with a red background and a white illustration of the neck of a guitar with a bird resting on it.
The weekend of August 15 through 18, 1969, approximately 400,000 revelers traveled from near and far to inhabit the rolling fields of Max...
D-Day. June 6, 1944.  The words bring to mind images of hundreds of landing craft, machines, and American fighting forces landing on...
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...
A tin foil version of the Stanley Cup
I’m a lifelong resident of the Washington, D.C. area and a hockey fan. So imagine my excitement (and surprise) last year when my team, the...

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