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.
Note: While history shouldn’t require a spoiler alert, this blog does contain some minor ones regarding the HBO series Watchmen.“You know...
Maybe this painting looks familiar. A long row of red-coated soldiers. A cloud of gun smoke engulfing the street. Falling bodies.Detail of...
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...

Blog Posts in "From the Collections"

Microscope
In the store-rooms of the museum, we recently discovered a small microscope made around 1750. The "I. CUFF Londini Inv. & Fec."...
Painting in vivid colors depicting Lusitania half-sunk, smoke billowing
One hundred years ago on May 7, 1915, the Lusitania was sunk by a German U-boat off the southern coast of Ireland, killing 1,195...
Pin with child's face and "I gave my tooth to science"
Who collects baby teeth? Most of us would say "the Tooth Fairy." But in the late 1950s and 1960s, the Tooth Fairy had a competitor in both...
Soldier sits posed in grass with fellow soldiers, wearing uniform and looking at camera
In 1922, four years after her American son was killed in action in World War I, Sallie Maxwell Bennett received a letter from Emil...
Students show off their letters on a bulletin board
My main memory as a fourth grader in 1972-73 was playing "Little Willy" by The Sweet on the classroom's record player while waiting...
Lincoln's hat
April 15 marks the 150th anniversary of the death of Abraham Lincoln. Across the country, there will be numerous remembrances and...
Thursday, April 9, marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederate surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia. In recognition of this...
An early self-portrait of inventor and businessman Robert Cornelius, taken in 1839. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.
We often rely on our colleagues who have expertise in specific areas to guide us in our selection of objects for the American Enterprise...
"America" airplane and two men beside it
Ya just never know what you will be offered at the National Museum of American History!A few weeks ago, I accepted a small collection of...
Detail of image: two men with camera and hats
Boston-area photographer George K. Warren, with studios variously in Lowell, Cambridge, and Boston, started as a daguerreotypist in the...
Roy Rogers and Trigger yo-yo, yellow and red
April Fool's! It is not Yo-yo Heritage Month, so we unfortunately will not be sharing yo-yo facts all month. But...
Curator preparing “Abigail” doll for display in the “American Enterprise” exhibition.
A small, 11" cloth doll might seem like an incongruous object for discussing the issues of the American Great Depression. Yet enduring the...
Watercolor image of woman with red flowers
During the 1890s, just about any flat surface in the public eye might be covered with simple, bold, and colorful posters. They advertised...
Baseball players group photo
The year was 1944. A playoff series between two all-star baseball teams generated ample excitement. Gila River fought Heart Mountain...
Jefferson's Bible, open
What was the significance of religion in the early history of the United States? In the summer of 2017, we will open a new exhibition...
Boxing belt with Irish and American symbols
In honor of St. Patrick's Day, staff members have selected four objects that reveal facets of the Irish American experience.Dan Gifford,...
Illustration of an ambulance-style van with a red cross and text: "U.S.A. X-Ray Car No. 4"
In 1897, at the age of 22, Henry Lyman Saÿen's career in scientific instruments seemed to be set. Little did he know that his talents would...
Two women wearing hats in WWI photo
The scream of incoming shells would send French peasant women dashing to their cellars for safety, but then they would pick their...
Campaign badge with a photo of Grant and gold-colored frame
As an intern in the National Numismatic Collection, Chelsea Hansen has been working with General Ulysses S. Grant's collection of...
Six different Square readers, white
As new monetary technologies emerge, how are they changing the way individuals and small businesses make transactions? Collections Manager...
Sheet music cover
On March 3, 1931, President Herbert Hoover signed a congressional act that made Francis Scott Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner" the...
Apparatus
February 27, 2015, marks the 75th anniversary of the discovery of the radioactive carbon isotope, carbon-14, by Martin Kamen and Sam Ruben...
Measles sign
In 1904 C. A. Lindsley, the secretary of the Connecticut State Board of Health, complained that "measles is still prevailing in an epidemic...
Touring Ralph's workshop
I love being around inventors. I love the quality of their imaginations, but most of all, I love the kind of people they are, their...
Etching of Dr. Craver
Several years ago, the museum acquired this striking portrait of Dr. George Washington Carver, the famous African American scientist and...
Valentine card with phone lines
Sending warm and fuzzies to a special someone this Valentine's Day? If you're not able to convey your affections in person, you'll probably...
Illustration of two grebes
Happy National Bird-Feeding Month! While this perhaps escaped your attention as a major milestone on the calendar of holidays and...
Ellipsograph
As a child, you may have played with a simple wooden toy called a "do-nothing" machine or simply a "grinder."As a mathematician, I find...
Coconut bowl
It's that time of year again. The Seattle Seahawks return to the big game on Sunday, this time taking on the New England Patriots, and here...
Side portrait of Bell, blue tinted
The name Alexander Graham Bell has become indelibly tied to the telephone (so much so that I'm surprised we don't call those handheld...
The Battle of Fort Fisher may not sound familiar. However, its little known role in the demise of the Confederacy is movie worthy. Fort...
"There is no subject attracting more attention at the present time among men of science throughout the world, than the newly discovered...
Lightbulb patent
If time-travel were possible and I could pick a moment, I'd choose Menlo Park, New Jersey, for my destination on New Year's Eve in 1879.As...
As we celebrated our 50th anniversary this year, we often gave blog readers a peek behind the scenes. Here are our readers' favorite posts...
Historic denture
From scary-looking dental devices to a highly symbolic stump, there were many Civil War blog posts you loved this year. Here are your...
Staff members in Star-Spangled Banner gallery installing manuscript
Judging from our readers' favorite posts, you love Civil War history, aren't very good singers, and can't wait for Downton Abbey ...
Cover of Rudolph booklet
The story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, a cultural icon that heralds the Christmas season, was first introduced to the American public...
A museum employee wears glove and holds an Uncle Sam toy
Heather Paisley-Jones is an education specialist and a member of the exhibition team for the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object...
For me, it's almost hard to imagine a holiday season without Coca-Cola. The adorable polar bear commercials, the penguins romantically...
Queen Elizabeth II meets Duke Ellington
Smithsonian Jazz Intern Jake Huss shares the stories behind the selections heard at the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra's holiday...
Detail image of cholera man
Every few years, we read the headlines about a new, or resurgent, disease that threatens global health. Fears of transfer erupt and...
Atari E.T. cartridge in landfill dirt
The video game history collection at the museum has some amazing objects in it that represent big moments in the development of the...
"Health corsets" and ready-to-wear clothing will be a part of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project, opening July...
Ad of Swift's ham and bacon
I used to eat a lot of expired bread back in 2011. I'd just moved from my home in Singapore to Florida for college and had been used to...
Ralph Baer passed away on December 7. The world will remember him as the inventor of the first video game. Here at the Smithsonian, we also...
Tarima and shoes used by Martha Gonzalez in California, 1999
As the Museum gears up to open new exhibitions in 2015, 2016, and 2017, our curators have combed the country, looking for the richest...
When I was in eighth grade, my government teacher gave us a homework assignment that I did not do. The next day, we were told to hand ...
Two documents reveal the high tech significance of merchant and entrepreneur Cyrus W. Field's anniversary party, 124 years ago today....

Pages