The Program in Latino History and Culture strives to represent Latino communities and their stories throughout the National Museum of American History’s many exhibitions. The projects listed contain specific emphasis on Latino history and are available online.
Baseball is the national pastime. But it’s also an American export, one with a tradition that’s constantly evolving. ¡Pleibol! shares the experiences of Latinas and Latinos whose love for the game and incredible talent have changed baseball and transformed American culture forever. Throughout the last century, Latinas and Latinos have used baseball to chase their dreams, challenge prejudice, and build communities. Whether in the barrios or the big leagues, in rural backyards or barn-storming travel teams, they left a mark on how we see, hear, and play the game.
Girlhood (It's complicated) showcases how girls have been on the frontlines of change throughout American history. The exhibition prominently features Latina stories and objects, including a pair of poster board butterfly wings collected at a DACA protest; a teenage agricultural worker’s hoodie and bandanas; Zoot Suit Girls and punks; a cotillion dress and Quinceñera dress; and Rebecca Lobo’s Olympic basketball uniform
Women of all races and classes across the United States worked for suffrage and women’s rights, but most are missing from the tale we learn in school with its focus on iconic leaders. This exhibition highlights those stories that are often overlooked, including the Latina suffragists in the West who ran bilingual campaigns for the vote.
How did we become US? Many Voices, One Nation explores how the many voices of people in America have shaped our nation. The exhibition explores many Latino stories, including the Indigenous peoples of Spanish New Mexico and the Pueblo Revolt; the incorporation of Mexican California; the U.S. acquisition of Puerto Rico; Mexican neighborhoods in Chicago and Los Angeles; immigration and the southwest borderlands; and Cuban migration.
This exhibition chronicles the tumultuous interaction of capitalism and democracy that has resulted in the continual remaking of American business. Explore Latino history through the importation of chocolate from the Caribbean and South America in the merchant era; the Latino market in advertising, broadcast, and music; the labor rights movement and leaders like Luisa Moreno and Cesar Chavez; and the contributions of Latino immigrant labor in the global era, including figures like Maria Durazo and Dora Escobar. The exhibition’s rotating New Perspectives case “The Only One in the Room,” a display exploring women achievers in business and the costs of success, features advertising trailblazer Sara Sunshine and beauty entrepreneur Rea Ann Silva.
The United States has often been called a nation of immigrants. This exhibition showcases several Latino stories that demonstrate the complexities of immigration, including farm labor in California and the famed Route 66.
The story of Americans and food in the latter half of the twentieth century is about much more than what’s for dinner. This exhibition prominently features the contributions of Latinos to U.S. food culture. Explore Latino food history through the popularity of Mexican food and the new availability of supermarket tortillas; the origins of Tex-Mex cuisine; the invention of the Frozen Margarita; and Fritos corn chips.
The Molina Family Latino Gallery will be the Smithsonian Latino Center's first national gallery dedicated to Latino history and culture. The inaugural exhibition, ¡Presente! A Latino History of the United States, reveals how Latinos have shaped the nation since before its founding. Visitors will be invited to reexamine what they know about Latinos and U.S. history.
The 1965 legislation had far-reaching effects on immigration to the United States, both intended and unintended. It opened the possibility for many people to come to the United States by eliminating discriminatory quotas placed on Southern and Eastern Europeans, promoting the unification of families, and welcoming high-skilled workers. On the other hand, it placed hemispheric quotas on immigration and restricted low-skilled workers from immigrating to the United States, like the Braceros, where they were previously permitted.
Acclaimed author, Sandra Cisneros, created an installation in the tradition of "Día de los Muertos" to honor her mother, Elvira Cordero Cisneros. Commenting on this work, Cisneros writes, "My mother never had a room of her own until the last 10 years of her life. She relished her room…” The exhibition installation was also paired with a reading by the author from A House of My Own: Stories from My Life.
Many stories and events related to people with disabilities never make it into the history books or shared public memories. Familiar concepts and events such as citizenship, work, and wars become more complicated when viewed from the historical perspective of people with disabilities. America’s largest minority challenges our assumptions about what counts as history, and transform our connection with each other when we view it through their lens.
This exhibition is about Clotilde Arias, a Peruvian immigrant who came to New York City in 1923 at age twenty-two to study music. Decades later she translated the national anthem into the official Spanish version at the request of the U.S. government. Arias lived through the Great Depression, World War II, and the development of the advertising industry, not only as a witness but as a full participant and agent of change.
HIV and AIDS Thirty Years Ago looks at the public health, scientific and political responses in the early phase (1981-87) of the global pandemic. This showcase was located in the museum’s 2011 Science in American Life exhibition. The display featured photographs, magazine covers and other graphics. In addition, equipment that Dr. Jay Levy used to isolate the virus in his lab at the University of California, San Francisco, a copy of the Surgeon General’s 1986 report presenting the government’s position, samples of the drugs AZT and Retrovir and public health information pamphlets from AIDS service organizations.
Between 1942 and 1964, an estimated two million Mexican men came to the United States on short-term labor contracts. A little-known chapter of American and Mexican history, the bracero program touched the lives of countless men, women, families, and communities. Both bitter and sweet, the bracero experience tells a story of exploitation but also of opportunity.
This Web site is based on "A Collector's Vision of Puerto Rico," an exhibition that was on view at the National Museum of American History in the 1990s. The purpose of that exhibition, and this Web site, is to look at the history of Puerto Rico through the eyes of a collector who captured the island's history from the 16th to the 20th centuries with the thousands of wonderful objects that he collected.
Explores the international origins of the societies of Canada and the U.S. and commemorates the 400th anniversary of three lasting settlements in Jamestown (1607), Québec (1608), and Santa Fe (1609). The exhibition takes a multicultural approach to the virtually simultaneous introduction of English, French, and Spanish culture to this vast area and tells the stories of Native and European societies through 1700.
Objects and stories reinforce and challenge our understanding of American history, and help define our personal and cultural identities. This exhibition is shaped, in part, by our existing collections and rotates objects periodically. Some of the objects in the exhibit include Spanish currency, an altar finial from Our Lady of Guadalupe mission church, Celia Cruz’s shoes, a quinceañera outfit, Roberto Clemente’s baseball uniform, and more.
Celia Cruz was an enormous talent who had an impeccable sense of rhythm and inimitable style. She became an influential and legendary musical figure in her native country, her adopted country, and around the world. Listen to examples of her music at different periods of her career and view photos and costumes from throughout her lifetime.