A large group of people surround a huge US flag in the atrium of the museum

Welcome to American History

The museum's world class collections help tell the complex history of our nation. We are located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Open today 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m
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Racial segregation was still legal in the United States on February 1, 1960, when four African American college students sat down at this Woolworth counter in Greensboro, North Carolina. Politely asking for service at this “whites only” counter, their request was refused. When asked to leave, they remained in their seats. Their sit-in drew national attention and helped ignite a youth-led movement to challenge inequality throughout the South.

A section of the Greensboro lunch counter on display at the museum

Objects from the Collections

In 1848, in the days before the first woman’s rights convention at Seneca Falls, New York, a group of women used this table to draft a declaration of rights for women modeled after the Declaration of Independence.
Dated to 1861, this badge likely belonged to William P. Perry, a bricklayer in Charleston, South Carolina. Perry was a teenager when he joined the Niagara Fire Company, an independent African American volunteer fire company.
This banner was likely used during one of the thousands of Bowl of Rice parties that were held throughout the country in the 1930s and 1940s in order to raise money for Chinese civilians affected by the Second Sino-Japanese War.

As the nation’s history museum, we empower people to create a just and compassionate future by exploring, preserving, and sharing the complexity of our past.

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Visitors with suffrage banners standing with a suffragette historic re-enactor.