Margaret Hamilton stands next to a stack of program listings from the Apollo Guidance Computer in a photograph taken in 1969.

Margaret Hamilton Led the NASA Software Team That Landed Astronauts on the Moon

Apollo’s successful computing software was optimized to deal with unknown problems and to interrupt one task to take on a more important one

“Everyone involved accomplished many, many firsts with that flight,” says Smithsonian curator Teasel Muir-Harmony. of NASA's near-perfect mission, (above: Apollo 8 command module).

How Apollo 8 ‘Saved 1968’

The unforgettable, 99.9 percent perfect, December moon mission marked the end of a tumultuous year

More like something out of a dream than a part of daily life, that weekend indelibly imprinted scenes in American memory: the riderless horse, the rat-a-tat-tat of the muffled drums, the brave widow, the toddler saluting his father’s casket.

How Poetry Soothed a Nation in Mourning for John F. Kennedy

First the jolt of shock, then a shroud of sadness struck the nation in the weeks following that fateful day

Now held in the collections of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum are a 35 mm camera (left) and a digital camera. Each was used by John Glenn on his two journeys into outer space.

How John Glenn’s Encore Space Flight Lifted U.S. Spirits

Two cameras tell the tale of the first American to orbit Earth and his return to space 36 years later

A modern retelling of the classic arrives in theaters September 28, while director Greta Gerwig plans another remake of the film for late 2019.

Why Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women' Endures

The author of a new book about the classic says the 19th-century novel contains life lessons for all, especially for boys

With "Hey Jude," (above: the Smithsonian's 45 rpm single),  the Beatles "seem to have struck their most resonant chord," says John Troutman, the curator of American music at the National Museum of American History.

“Hey Jude” Still Makes Everything "Better, Better, Better"

The Beatles’ biggest single hit skyrocketed on the charts in August of 1968

Eunice Kennedy Shriver with Best Buddies and Special Olympians (left to right) Airika Straka, Katie Meade, Andy Leonard, Loretta Claiborne and Marty Sheets.

For More Than Five Decades, the Special Olympics Has Given Marginalized Superstars Center Stage

Founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the games offer intellectually disabled athletes the chance to dazzle an international audience

This painting by Louis-Nicolas Van Blarenberghe, court painter of battles to France’s King Louis XVI, depicts the 1781 formal surrender of the British army at Yorktown, Virginia. The original is at the Palace of Versailles. This secondary version was created in 1786 for French General Comte de Rochambeau, the commander of the French forces at Yorktown

The American Revolution Was Just One Battlefront in a Huge World War

A new Smithsonian exhibition examines the global context that bolstered the colonists’ fight for independence

Clockwise from upper right, the items Feliciano donated to the Smithsonian included: his beloved Concerto Candelas guitar, a Braille writer his wife Susan used, a pair of his trademark glasses, and a heartfelt embroidered note from a Japanese admirer.

For More Than Five Decades, José Feliciano's Version of the National Anthem Has Given Voice to Immigrant Pride

The acclaimed musician offers a moving welcome to the newest U.S. citizens and donates his guitar

Robert F. Kennedy by Roy Lichtenstein,1989, after 1968 original

On the Eve of his Death, Robert Kennedy Was a Whirlwind of Empathy and Internal Strife

These unconventional portraits capture the man's evolution from straitlaced politician to champion of the poor

The story of Laika (above, in a postage stamp from the Emirate of Ajman, now part of the UAE) lives on today in websites, YouTube videos, poems, and children’s books, at least one of which provides a happy ending for the doomed dog.

The Sad, Sad Story of Laika, the Space Dog, and Her One-Way Trip Into Orbit

A stray Moscow pup traveled into orbit in 1957 with one meal and only a seven-day oxygen supply

On April 4, 1968, when his campaign plane reached Indianapolis on that night, Robert F. Kennedy (above: in a 1968 portrait by Louis S. Glanzman) learned of Dr. King’s death.

When Robert Kennedy Delivered the News of Martin Luther King's Assassination

Months before his own slaying, Kennedy recalled the loss of JFK as he consoled a crowd of shocked African-Americans in Indianapolis

President Lyndon Johnson constituted the Kerner Commission to identify the genesis of the violent 1967 riots that killed 43 in Detroit and 26 in Newark (above, soldiers in a Newark storefront), while causing fewer casualties in 23 other cities.

The 1968 Kerner Commission Got It Right, But Nobody Listened

Released 50 years ago, the infamous report found that poverty and institutional racism were driving inner-city violence

Norman Rockwell (above in a 1968 photograph by Garry Camp Burdick), who created more than 300 original covers for the Saturday Evening Post over the course of his long career, was already widely known for his rich visualizations of the American dream when he set about the challenging task of animating FDR's Four Freedoms.

Norman Rockwell's 'Four Freedoms' Brought the Ideals of America to Life

This wartime painting series reminded Americans what they were fighting for

A North American F-100D Super Sabre drops a napalm bomb near Bien Hoa, South Vietnam, 1967.

This Fighter Jet Turned the Tide During Vietnam's Decisive Tet Offensive

More than five decades ago, America won this huge battle, but lost the war

The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery is home to a photograph of Travolta by Douglas Kirkland, (above, detail), striking his characteristic dance pose.

John Travolta’s Breakout Hit Was America’s Best Dance Party

It’s been 40 years since ‘Saturday Night Fever’—a gritty film powered by music, machismo and masterful footwork—became a cultural phenomenon

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