Music blasts toward the audience as concertgoers dance to Steve Aoki's pounding bass rhythms and bright LED displays. The DJ throws cakes...
Wartime often catalyzes developments in philanthropy. In 2017, the museum added the Bowl of Rice party banner, from fundraising efforts to...
In April 2006, President George W. Bush proclaimed May to be Jewish American Heritage Month. Jewish American objects in our collections...

Blog Posts in "African American History"

a photograph of Ella Fitzgerald. She looks up and away from the camera. She is smiling and rests on a number of records spread out on the table in front of her.
In the Archives Center, jazz always seems to be a topic of discussion, whether it be a researcher looking for the Duke Ellington Collection...
A photograph of a smiling man, his arms outstretched, in front of an exhibit with images on the wall, objects against it, and signs with captions on them.
Only a few days after the passing of James Cotton, one of the country's greatest blues harmonica players, we lost one of our greatest...
A work of art portraying a face in the fore and a red and black design in the back.
Did you ever cut a linoleum block in art class? While rolls of linoleum were used for floor covering from the 1860s, artists only began to...
A playing card on which a man wearing boxing clubs in a fighting stance stands against a green background made to look like a large hall with many seated people
In 1908, Texan Jack Johnson (1878–1946) defeated Canadian Tommy Burns to become the first African American world heavyweight boxing...
Still from a black and white movie. Movie poster in background. A young, nicely dressed African American woman and man stand together, smiling.
The Reverend Harold Mose Anderson was always fascinated by the movies. Anderson saved his money and bought a home movie camera from a...
(Detail image) Black and white photo of an African American man in military uniform. His arms are gently crossed, a watch o his wrist. His head is slightly tilted to the right, with a serious but gentle look on his face. The uniform has pockets, buttons, and a fairly high collar.
Offered in celebration of Black History Month and in recognition of the 100th anniversary of America's participation in World War I, the...
black metal device that looks like a typewriter. All the keys, however, have numbers on them and they are yellow, green, and red.
Over the past few months, I’ve read Margot Lee Shetterly’s book Hidden Figures and seen the movie with the same title. These...
A black patch with a white helmet sewn on the front
As a kid, Leonard W. Miller secretly tinkered with his parents' car for almost a year before they noticed he'd been replacing parts under...
A red program for an inauguration with the statue of liberty and a golden star in the center
Taking the oath of office is the only constitutionally mandated event of the day, but every president has agreed with George Washington...
Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald sit in front of a microphone
Within the Ella Fitzgerald Papers collection, a hidden gem reveals a surprising connection between Fitzgerald and President John F. Kennedy...
White button features a drawing of two students sitting next to each, one turns to the other and says "May 17th!." Around the button's border the text reads: "Keep the Buses Rolling...March on Boston."
On September 9, 1974, over 4,000 white demonstrators rallied at Boston Common to protest the start of court-ordered school desegregation in...
Detail of image: Black and white snapshot. A woman sits in a chair, her legs crossed and her hands on knee. She smiles, eyes closed and mouth open to show her teeth. She wears a smart suit with white collar. The man balances on one of the arms of the chair, gesturing toward her, also with a smile. He wears a suit and black/white shoes.
What does a world-famous musician put under the tree for the woman he loves . . . when he happens to be married to someone else?In the case...
A photo from the museum of the installed portion of the counter from the Greensboro diner. It includes the countertop, four chairs, and part of the back wall with a mirror on it.
We often remember the civil rights movement as a few iconic events that took place at famous landmarks—the Edmund Pettus Bridge, the...
A black and white photograph of a man in a patterned jacket and wire-rimmed glasses hovering over a boy with an Afro. The man holds a pair of scissors and a wide-toothed comb over the boy's hair as he looks off.
This Thanksgiving, education specialist Ariel Gory reflects on an experience for which she is thankful: the opportunity to inspire future...
a 4-wheeled, covered wagon with messages of suffrage and equal rights painted on the side
As a young woman casting my vote in my first presidential election, I came to the museum interested in learning more about the history of...
A print showing a group of men by the ballot box. One man is holding some papers in his hands while the man across from him had his arm raised, appearing to be on the verge of hitting something. The men wear top hats and there is text at the bottom that explains a conflict between voters about who they would want to vote for.
As we near Election Day, political cartoons are inescapable. Satirical cartoons continue a tradition of political printmaking that has been...
Portrait of Marjorie Stewart Joyner
Born in 1896 in the tiny Appalachian hamlet of Monterey, Virginia, Marjorie Stewart grew up in extreme poverty. Of her 12 brothers and...
Picture of Harold Cotton, Hat Blocker by Harvey Wang. Harold Cotton cleans a fedora with a brush. A group of hat blocks sit in the foreground, and Cotton's diploma hangs on the wall behind him.
At 15 years old, Harold Cotton tucked his shoe shine box under his arm and walked to Jefferson Square in downtown Greensboro, North...
Girls in uniform sit around a table holding their certificates.
Moving to a new city is intimidating, particularly because most of your time is spent stumbling into familiarity. Guidance, trial, and...
A young girl stands behind a cake in a room full of seated children wearing party hats.
While scrolling through Facebook one day, Eunice was struck by a sudden memory. "I had a visceral reaction and thought, 'Oh my God!'" She...
Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton sits on a mat in a gym circled by children of various ages. She appears to be midsentence answering a question from a youth in front of her.
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! The Olympics have arrived and it is time for us to send our most brilliant athletes to compete against their...
Postcard with photo of two young children wearing ballet shoes. Little boy holds top hat in his raised hand and an over-sized coat. The little girl strikes a pose with a fancy fan and wears a full-skirted tea length dress and a hat with many bows.
Cakewalks, for many, evoke visions of childhood and carnivals. Today, a cakewalk is where dancers promenade around a circle of numbers on...
(Detail) Indoor black and white photo of children gathered around a rectangular table, wearing party hats and waiting to eat cake. The birthday boy, in suit and tie, grins, standing with his hands behind his back with his two-tiered cake in front of him. Behind him, a patterned curtain. Wood-paneled room.
We're thrilled that our new neighbor, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, will open its doors in September....
(Detail) Many people in formal outfits sit at a long table with a white tablecloth. A couple smiles, wearing silly hats, about to cut a cake. Behind them, 15 or 16 people stand on a raised platform or stage, smiling for the photo. Streamers and other decorations are visible on the ceiling. There are tall candles in candle holders on some of the tables.
We're thrilled that our new neighbor, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, will open its doors in September....
Miss Anna Jackson's May Day, 1942
May Day is a holiday that many Americans have celebrated, but relatively few can explain. Depending on your age, you might associate May 1...
Black and white photo of Ellington at piano. Ellington turns slightly to face camera, his right hand on the keys.
Within the first week of starting my internship in the Archives Center of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, I was...
Yellow guitar, dark blue background.
The museum will recognize the life and legacy of Prince Rogers Nelson (1958–2016) by displaying his "Yellow Cloud" electric guitar. The...
Woman in white suit and hat poses with man in baseball uniform and hat. Big smiles. In background, baseball stadium.
Baseball, signed by the 1984 San Francisco Giants. The autographed baseball was collected by American jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald (1917–...
Black and white photo of men playing instruments on stage
Since 2001, Jazz Appreciation Month (popularly known as "JAM") has encouraged people around the world to spend April celebrating the music...
 Printed portrait of Elizabeth Keckly included in her autobiography "Behind the Scenes"
This month, we've been exploring how American women made their place in the marketplace by participating in business and consumption....
Graphic in black text: "The Birth of a Nation" at 100
Our History Film Forum got us thinking about issues in depicting historic events in film. Watch our discussion on The Birth of a...
Light yellow and white dress, tea-length, short sleeves, scoop neck, delicate pattern
During my internship at the museum, I had the immense pleasure of working with a collection of objects donated by Minnijean Brown Trickey....
Latin Jazz postage stamp
On October 16 and 17, the museum's own big-band-in-residence, the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra (SJMO) will kick off their 25th...
Image of political cartoon
You may not have heard about the Hart-Celler Act, but as the foundation of our current immigration laws it has had a dramatic impact on U.S...
A slow disco melody spins on the turntable, interrupted by the metallic sound of symbols. Right after that, the running sounds of bongo...
Photograph, circa 1958, of four young African American women standing beside a convertible automobile
Owning a car expanded people’s physical freedom to move, allowing them to participate in a radical democratization of space in America. In...
Photo of the scultpure featured in the Business of Slavery section
On June 19, 1865, Major General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas, and issued General Orders, Number 3, which proclaimed that all...
D.C.-area musicians Little Benny on saxophone and and MeShell Ndegeocello on bass. Photograph by Thomas Sayers Ellis, used with permission.
Experience live go-go music on Thursday, June 11, 2015, as part of our America Now! Music Festival.In the early 1970s, musical pioneer...
3 guitar heads
Happy 100th Birthday, Les Paul!June 9, 2015, is an important day for the guitar and music world: It is the centennial of the birth of...
Portrait of Caroline Jones at the start of her career as an advertising executive
A fedora, Lucky Strike cigarettes, and a set of cocktail-ready tumblers: all the hallmarks of a 1960s ad agency were on display Thursday...
Detail crop of Neiman's "Big Band" painting
Can't tell your Dizzys from your Dukes? Whether you're new to jazz, or just looking for a quick and easy way to remember jazz history's...
Detail image of LeRoy Neiman's "Big Band" painting, featuring 3 of the jazz artists
When serious jazz fans namedrop their favorite musicians (and their copious nicknames), it can be a bit intimidating for those of us who...
Watercolor of Strayhorn in progress
April is Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM), with a variety of events and programs throughout the museum and country designed to...
Etching of Dr. Craver
Several years ago, the museum acquired this striking portrait of Dr. George Washington Carver, the famous African American scientist and...
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...
Man with camera in military uniform
Using a camera taken from a German officer who had died in battle, Paul Bland documented his experiences across Normandy, Northern France,...
Ambrotype of the washerwoman for the Union Army, who has an American flag on her outfit
Today, many of our staff are participated in a global, Twitter-based Q&A called Ask a Curator Day. Here are a few of our favorite...
Compilation record of Moon's recordings. Photo by Danny Lyon. Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collection.
Fifty years after Freedom Summer, when students risked their lives to advance the cause of civil rights, intern Sydney Johnson explores...

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