February is Black History Month! Visit our heritage month page to learn about our special activities.
Explore the digital resources on this page to learn more about African American history at the National Museum of American History.
Photo above: Marian Anderson performing at the Lincoln Memorial on April 9, 1939. Scurlock Studio Records, Series 4: Black and White Negatives Box 618.04.86, Archives Center (AC0618ns0227136-01jp)
- Greensboro Lunch Counter (currently on view)
- Reckoning with Remembrance: History, Injustice, and the Murder of Emmett Till (online)
The museum's newest podcast series, Collected, is a project of the African American History Curatorial Collective. Centering stories curated by the Collective’s members, this podcast offers compelling and accessible journeys through topics in African American history that are particularly relevant today. The topic for the first season of Collected is Black Feminism.
Listen to the trailer for the first season of the Collected podcast.
Other Smithsonian-related podcast episodes featuring African American history include:
- The Fugitive Brewer | Smithsonian Sidedoor
- Lena Richard | Smithsonian Sidedoor
- Muhammad Ali’s Robe | Lost at the Smithsonian
In addition to the recent highlights below, the museum's YouTube channel has many more videos that explore African American history. The Program in African American History and Culture and Reckoning with Remembrance: History, Injustice, and the Murder of Emmett Till playlists are excellent places to start.
- Reflections on the Greensboro Lunch Counter
- Recovering Food Histories with Toni Tipton-Martin and Friends
- Stories of Black Philanthropy: Treasures from the National Museum of American History
- What did Tulsa’s Greenwood District look like in the mid-1900s? | Harold M. Anderson Black Wall Street Film Collection
- How are museums collecting around COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter? | Pandemic Perspectives
- Race and Place: Yellow Fever and the Free African Society in Philadelphia | Pandemic Perspectives
- Duke Ellington’s “Cotton Tail”| Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Quintet
- Melba Liston's “Now, Ain't It” | Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Sextet
- Dizzy Gillespie’s “A Night in Tunisia” | Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Octet
- Jamming with James: Vocalese in Jazz | Smithsonian Cares
- What's in an Identity? Denea Joseph on the Practice of Intersectional Organizing | Tell Me What Democracy Looks Like
- Civic Action | Young People Shake Up Elections (History Proves It)
Watch a short trailer previewing the Harold M. Anderson Black Wall Street Film Collection, recently published on the museum's YouTube channel.
Visit the museum's blog to discover many more stories rooted in African American history.
- Black Life in Two Pandemics: Histories of Violence
- Chef Lena Richard: Culinary Icon and Activist
- John Lewis and Good Trouble
- Two objects bring the history of African American firefighting to light
- Education | Becoming US: Teacher resources for a more accurate and inclusive migration and immigration narrative
- Social Studies Online: Black History Month | Learning Lab
- Resources on Martin Luther King Jr. | Learning Lab
- Abolition | National Youth Summit
- Freedom Rides | National Youth Summit
- Freedom Summer | National Youth Summit
- Teen Resistance to Systemic Racism | National Youth Summit
The 2020 National Youth Summit centered on the experiences of Claudette Colvin—a 15-year-old Black student in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955. Colvin refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus and testified in the legal case that brought an end to segregated busing in Montgomery.
The HistoryTime series encourages elementary school students to practice thinking routines by carefully observing museum objects and artifacts. Each video has an accompanying lesson plan with activities for students to do in class or at home
- Dr. Patricia Bath | History Time
- Shirley Chisholm | History Time
- Elizabeth Keckly | HistoryTime
- Dominique Dawes and Amy Purdy | HistoryTime
- Go-Go Music | HistoryTime
- Leah Chase and Julia Child | HistoryTime
- Mary McLeod Bethune | HistoryTime
- Minnijean Brown’s Graduation Dress | HistoryTime
Watch a HistoryTime video exploring the work of Elizabeth Keckly.
The National Museum of American History’s Archives Center collects, preserves, and provides access to numerous archival collections related to African American history. Some highlights include:
- Bernice Johnson Reagon Collection of African American Sacred Music
- Duke Ellington Collection
- Moses Moon Civil Rights Movement Audio Collection
- Program in African American Culture Collection
- Scurlock Studio Records
- Susie Paige Afro-American Greeting Card Collection
The Archives Center recently completed work as part of a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources to establish the D.C. Africana Archives Project. The grant aimed to document African American and African culture, history, and politics in Washington, D.C., through photographs and documents held by people and organizations throughout the city.
Other Smithsonian Resources
- African American History Curatorial Collective | National Museum of American History
- African American History Program | National Museum of American History
- Searchable Museum | National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Anacostia Community Museum
- National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Our Shared Future: Reckoning with Our Racial Past