A civil rights protest often invokes the vivid images of sit-ins, boycotts, and marches, but the fight for racial equality took many...
"They're swingin' everything else—why not nursery rhymes?" stated Ella Fitzgerald while dancing around the room showcasing some new dance...
Smithsonian Jazz Intern Jake Huss shares the stories behind the selections heard at the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra's holiday...

Blog Posts in "Invention & Innovation"

White celluloid collar on black background
Men’s celluloid collar, 1900sAt first glance, this collar from the 1800s might not look like much. A closer inspection shows that this...
Grace Hopper examines a computer at work.
On December 7, 1941, two days before her 35th birthday, Grace Murray Hopper, an associate professor of mathematics at Vassar College, was...
"Green Egg" GPS Receiver
"Information is your new crop!" proclaimed John Deere's brochure, announcing the company's newly launched GreenStar Precision Farming...
Production drawings from Steamboat Willie show Mickey Mouse pulling on a string, tumbling on a bar of soap, and a wheel
It is hard to believe, but Mickey Mouse is celebrating his 90th birthday this year. For an old mouse, he still looks pretty spry! One of...
A blue robotic arm
A visitor to Kenneth Salisbury's Stanford University office can't miss the evidence of his life-long fascination with hands.Kenneth...
A red box shaped like a fire house station with a pull handle. The box is decorated with the company logo of Gamewell, complete with a hand gripping bolts of electricity.
At 2 p.m. on February 16, 1968, a special red telephone rang at the police station in Haleyville, Alabama. Rather than a police officer, U....
Two lightbulbs, the bulb on the left has a blue cast
People tend to be creatures of habit. That tendency often shows up when we’re faced with an odd-looking new technology that replaces...
Image of what looks like a cell phone with one of its panels removed so that insides are visible.
New inventions always build on inventions of the past—and sometimes more than one. Few devices demonstrate that more clearly than...
An old bottle of soap
According to a recent report by Mintel, a marketing research agency, few millennials use bar soap. Don't be alarmed, though. They...
Photograph of the opening of the New York City subway system. Courtesy of the New York Public Library.
William Steinway's diary resides in the National Museum of American History's Archives Center as part of the Steinway and Sons...
Rectangular cardboard box labeled "Rabies Vaccine (Duck Embryo)" in a printed label. It is half open. Inside, vials with liquid are visible.
Antibodies are always looking out for us, and this week we're taking a closer look at them. Antibody-based tests, vaccines, and drugs have...
Three amber-colored bottles that resemble upside down bells with handles. They have yellowed labels on them.
Antibodies are always looking out for us, and this week we're taking a closer look at them. Antibody-based tests, vaccines, and drugs have...
(Zoom/Detail) Black and white photo of a woman on a stage. On stage are six fridges, two lamps, and a big banner that says "REA." On a table on the floor in front of the stage, a lamp. There are decorative tassels.
Before Alton Brown, Rachael Ray, and Giada De Laurentiis, there was Louisan Mamer (1910–2005). An early employee of the Rural...
Postcard-sized illustration in color featuring three children. Two little boys light fireworks and play with toy soldiers while a little girl covers her ears and clutches a doll. Text reads "Wishing you a glorious 4th of July" in gold.
"The coming stupendous holocaust, caused by the sky-rocket, the giant fire cracker and the toy pistol, that leaves an annual trail of...
A horizontal glass bottle with metal machinery inside. There is wiring, a semicircular object, and a glass spout on one end with a tube attached below it filled with a black substance. Above, there is an object that is shaped like an golden, upside-down light bulb.
Vacuum technology is fascinating to me. Unfortunately for my house, I'm talking about a vacuum defined by the absence of matter, not the...
A piece of paper three hole punched at the top. There is a comic printed on it off-center of two computers sitting on a chair with a picture on a small table and dialogue bubbles. A signature and text is in the lower righthand corner and information is stamped above the cartoon on the page
On May 11, 1997, a chess-playing computer, Deep Blue, and world chess champion Garry Kasparov were on their sixth and final game. His...
A photograph of a number of men standing in front of a greenhouse. Their clothes are not very fine and they all have hats on. There are overgrown plants and trees behind the greenhouse. The men hold different tools like a scythe or a rake
Piano manufacturer William Steinway described his vision of suburban America to Congress in 1883, but in his own life the future had...
During the "Innovative Lives" event, curator Peter Liebhold (left) interviewed scientists Mary-Dell Chilton (center) and Robert Fraley (right).
The fall of 2016 was an important milestone in the history of agriculture—the 20-year anniversary of the first large-scale harvest of a...
A pair of dark leather books that are higher than ankle-length. They lace up the front. They have seen wear, as some of the seams look worn and the soles look like they're coming apart. On the ground in front of the shoes is a notebook. It looks to be made of dark leather and has rings like a modern binder, with pages covered in dark cursive.
Update: Thanks to you, our Kickstarter campaign to "Keep Them Ruby" was a success and we have the support we need to conserve and display...
on top of a grey surface, two rows of Pokemon cards are laid out, side by side. There are energy and trainer cards along with cards related to individual Pokemon. Some cards are in Japanese. In the bottom center row is a booklet with instructions for playing the card game.
Every generation comes to define itself by the experiences it shares, whether tragic or blissful. Sometimes, a single entertainment...
A photograph of a man in the garb of the 1860s. He rests his hand on a large globe on the ground as he stands and looks at something out of the right side of the frame. In his right hand he carries a rolled up paper.
I came to the Smithsonian in the summer of 1962, excited about the opportunity to apply my academic training in the history of science to...
An black and white image of a building surrounded by smoke. People gather around it, many in hats and winter jackets. The full caption at the bottom of the picture reads "The Collinwood School, photographed while the fire still raged"
With the academic year in full swing, schools across the country are beginning their first rounds of fire drills. Remember those? As alarms...
Small, handmade car designed from cardboard pieces in red, white, and brown.
Rolling across the Potomac on any given Sunday morning in the late 1990s, you could probably find a white Volvo with my dad driving my...
An illustration showing a cluster of figures. Neptune rides some sort of chariot pulled by four horse, with sea nymphs surrounding him and a cupid flying in the air. The scene is framed by pink ribbons saying "Neptune Hose Co.  Instituted August 6, 1805 and banners reading "To save out fellows we hazard ourselves"
Our fire engine has a secret message. For a few years now, this hand-pumped engine has been on display on the museum's first floor. For a...
Photograph of the Tucker sedan on display on the museum floor
Given an opportunity to suggest a landmark artifact outside the entrance to American Enterprise, the museum's new business history...
a green square board with a number of small pes attached by screen to a roller contraption with a handle on which lace is stretched
Walking down a street in Chicago in 1901, Sylvester G. Lewis saw a large group of women enthralled with a lady making lace in a window...
Photograph of a Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz taillight assembly, 1959
Although visitors would be hard-pressed to find shark fins in our museum's displays, there is one kind of fin (or, at least, part of a fin...
For the third installment of our Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project potluck series, we embraced 1950s cooking. We found...
Patent with black and white illustration
New posters around the museum remind us as we come to work each morning that our theme this year is "America Participates." This...
1870s Remington typewriter, black with detailed flowers and patriotic emblems painted on it
The sound of clicking typewriter keys filled the museum's Innovation Wing recently during Type-O-Rama. This event, presented by the ...
Cover of "Recipes for Today" cookbook, with an illustration of a woman wearing a read and white dress and carrying a large bowl of soup
The Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project team had a variety of reactions, taste-wise, to the 1930s recipes that...
Black and white photo of a large bank of snow. In the center, a tunnel has been made. A man stands inside the tunnel. Behind him, five buildings over one story high. "Hardware Iron & Steel" says the sign on one.
Piano maker William Steinway woke up on March 12, 1888, and discovered "the most fearful snowstorm . . . I ever experienced" had buried New...
Photo of fabric. Dark blue background. Images of small children wearing pink, brown, white, and blue outfits. Attached together with string.
Some dolls, some dogs, and a charming Parisian story from our textile collections, part of our World War I series this month.In July 1918,...
Photograph of Monopoly board game, 1940s
This month marks the 80th anniversary for Charles S. Darrow's patent for the board game Monopoly. By the time Darrow was awarded the patent...
"Park and Shop" board game
 This November 27, 2015, the day after Thanksgiving, millions of Americans will kick off the holiday shopping season with what has...
1930s potluck spread
The members of the Patrick F. Taylor Foundation Object Project team have been poring over authentic period cookbooks as research...
1930s General Electric Monitor Top refrigerator
Electric refrigeration motivated Americans to rethink how they purchased, prepared, and stored food when it first took off in the 1930s....
Dennis the Menace with stethoscope and "Less of a Menace" text on button or sticker
Metaphors of war and combat are almost impossible to avoid when describing humankind's struggle to control infectious disease. The war may...
At the first sign of symptoms, many people turn to the Internet for health advice. Early listeners to radio could turn their dials and...
Black and white illustration of woman and girl using machine
American inventions associated with the book were having a bit of a boom between the 1850s and the 1880s. The number of books published...
Thomas Edison's patent model for improvements to a stock ticker
The Smithsonian and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) are hosting an Innovation Festival at the museum on...
A slow disco melody spins on the turntable, interrupted by the metallic sound of symbols. Right after that, the running sounds of bongo...
Place setting and tray used by the Kim family to serve Korean food
Entrepreneurial success and innovative spirit can come in many forms, and emerge from innumerable paths. The same can be said for stories...
Black and white photo of building
Guest blogger Sarah Weatherwax, a photography curator at the Library Company of Philadelphia, brings her expertise to bear on several...
Black and white photo of building surrounded by trees
Guest blogger Sarah Weatherwax, a photography curator at the Library Company of Philadelphia, brings her expertise to bear on several...
Photo of a concert on the museum's stage
Now that the first floor of our West Wing is open, I was curious what the head of our museum, Elizabeth MacMillan Director John Gray,...
Detail of the cover of "The Quest," which includes illustrations of a baby and a dog
In 1926 seven-year-old Belema Siegfried was turned away from school. The reason? Her parents had refused to submit paperwork proving that...
Each year in August, National Immunization Awareness Month provides an opportunity to highlight the value of immunization across the...

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