Our museum is temporarily closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.

About the Online Collection

Welcome to the National Museum of American History’s online collection. 

And thanks for your stuff. 

Over the years, you’ve trusted us with millions of incredible artifacts that span our nation's history. Our collection is so vast—approximately 1.7 million objects and 22,000 linear feet of archival documents—that only a fraction can be on view in the museum at any given time. 

To make our collection more accessible, we've put our entire database online. And we’ll be continuing to add records, both when we acquire (what we call “accession”) new objects and documents and when research gives us new insights into the existing collection.  

Cataloging a collection of this scale is and always will be a work in progress. You may notice, for example, that many objects and documents in our database haven't been photographed yet. You may come across records with very little information at all. You may even occasionally find an error, or harmful historical imagery, or language that we should explain further. 

We’ve decided to include these records, despite these challenges, because our goal is to make this collection as accessible as possible to the entire world. As we catalog and digitize the collection, we strive to: 

  • accurately describe objects and documents and place them in their historical context(s); 
  • capture and convey the stories that led us to collect these materials; 
  • provide as much information as possible to aid in their discoverability and use; 
  • protect the privacy rights of individuals documented in our collection; 
  • adhere to cultural and ethical guidelines related to sensitive materials; and 
  • respect access or use conditions set by creators or donors of objects and documents. 

We welcome your help in making our collection better. If you believe that information in our online database misrepresents or violates the rights of a person or community, please let us know. We take your feedback seriously and will work to investigate and remediate inaccuracies, legal and ethical issues, and misrepresentations. Please note that, try as we might, we can’t respond to all emails, and we may not always change records as a result of your comments. 

Thank you for entrusting us with this collection. We hope you enjoy exploring it.