Articles by Alicia Ault

Shaped mostly like a diamond, Washington, D.C. is organized by geographical divides centered on the U.S. Capitol and the White House, using mathematical principles employed by the original designer, Pierre Charles L’Enfant.

Track the Hidden Histories Lurking in the Street Names of Washington, D.C.

A new exhibition highlights the people behind some of the capital city’s roadways, plazas and parks

Sixty-five years ago Althea Gibson (above: in 1959) broke the color line at the French Open.

Women Who Shaped History

Sixty-Five Years Ago, Althea Gibson Broke the Color Line at the French Open

She was the first Black athlete—man or woman—to win any major national tennis championship

As many commercial operators and homeowners are shifting to LEDs, which tend to fall somewhere in the blue-white spectrum, the new results may have important implications beyond tropical rainforests.

Using Amber-Filtered Bulbs Instead of White Light Attracts Fewer Bugs

In a tropical rainforest study, 60 percent fewer insects visited traps illuminated in a golden glow. Researchers say the results may be widely applicable

Anthony Fauci, age 80, says museum director Anthea Hartig, “defines service at the highest level and exemplifies the true meaning of a great American.”

Covid-19

Anthony Fauci Donates His 3-D SARS-CoV-2 Model to the Smithsonian

The nation's doctor is awarded the Great Americans Medal by the National Museum of American History in virtual ceremony

In 1794, angered by the inaccurate reporting of the work black Philadelphians had contributed, Richard Allen (above) and Absalom Jones published "A Refutation," detailing how the community cared for the sick.

How the Politics of Race Played Out During the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic

Free blacks cared for the sick even as their lives were imperiled

An 1802 engraving, The Cow Pock—or—the Wonderful Effects of the New Inoculation plays on the fears of a crowd of vaccinees.

History Shows Americans Have Always Been Wary of Vaccines

Even so, many diseases have been tamed. Will Covid-19 be next?

A new exhibition "Every Eye Is Upon Me: First Ladies of the United States" is on view at the National Portrait Gallery; clockwise from top left: Mamie Eisenhower, Lady Bird Johnson, Grace Coolidge, Nancy Reagan, Dolley Madison, Abigail Fillmore, Frances Cleveland and Sarah Polk.

How History Records the Peculiar Role of America’s First Ladies

A new exhibition, "Every Eye is Upon Me," pays tribute to the ever-changing role of the women who hold this unelected office

On his last day of service in Vietnam in 1963, Harvey Pratt (Cheyenne and Arapaho) poses in Da Nang carrying his rappelling rope that he used to descend from helicopters to clear landing fields. Pratt is the designer of the National Native Americans Veterans Memorial.

The Remarkable and Complex Legacy of Native American Military Service

Why do they serve? The answer is grounded in honor and love for their homeland

An unveiling ceremony takes place virtually on November 11, 2020 at the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.

Native American Veterans Receive a Place of Their Own to Reflect and to Heal

After two decades in the making, a veterans memorial is dedicated at the National Museum of the American Indian

This marks the first time the fossil has been back in America since 1847, when it made its way through Europe and ultimately ended up at The Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt in Germany.

Alexander von Humboldt

This Mastodon Is a Centerpiece of an Art Exhibition. Why?

Meet the hugely influential Alexander von Humboldt, who foretold of climate change and inspired artists, writers and presidents

The Smithsonian 2020 Folklife Festival is online (above: Reconstructing Hope: Black Religions in the Age of Black Lives Matter, June 29).

Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival Moves into Your Living Room

This year, experience the familiar smells, sights and sounds, while streaming the events online

A wooden paddle with a nail-studded leather face was used in Alabama in 1899 to perforate mail in preparation for fumigation as a precaution against yellow fever.

Mail Handlers Used to Poke Holes in Envelopes to Battle Germs and Viruses

The postal service and scientists say there’s no need to sanitize the mail today

The six CD set Pete Seeger: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings won a Grammy in the category for Best Historical Album. The set includes some well-known, not-so-well-known, and previously unreleased recordings spanning Seeger’s career.

Grammy Nod to Folkways’ Pete Seeger Collection Is a Fitting Tribute

The producers aim to inspire future generations to carry on the singer’s legacy

Great Nature, Storm on Mount Lyell from Johnson Peak by Chiura Obata, 1939

How Japanese Artist Chiura Obata Came to Be an American Great

With landscapes infused with an emotion borne of a life of struggle, this master receives his due in this traveling retrospective now at the Smithsonian

The mostly retired singer-Songwriter Paul Simon told financier and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein that a recent dream has prompted him to work on a new extended piece of music.

Paul Simon Has 50 Ways to Charm an Audience

As the 2019 recipient of the Smithsonian’s Great Americans Medal, the musician divulged he still has one more song to write

The exceedingly private and humble Marian Anderson (Above: by Beauford Delaney, 1965, detail) would become a worldwide phenom.

Women Who Shaped History

How Marian Anderson Became an Iconic Symbol for Equality

Her beautiful voice famously rang out from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial; a new show takes a look at the highs and lows of her global acclaim

In 1917 when it was highly unusual for women to protest, a suffrage procession walked the streets of Washington, D.C. towards the White House carrying purple, white and gold banners.

Women Who Shaped History

How Women Got the Vote Is a Far More Complex Story Than the History Textbooks Reveal

An immersive story about the bold and diverse women who helped secure the right to vote is on view at the National Portrait Gallery

In 2016, 5,712 American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls were reported missing, which is likely the tip of the iceberg,

Women Who Shaped History

These Haunting Red Dresses Memorialize Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women

Artist Jaime Black says the REDress Project is an expression of her grief for thousands of Native victims

An assemblage Assimilation? Destruction? by ceramicist Sharif Bey, is primarily about globalization and cultural identity. It is also a reference to Bey’s identity as a potter and an artist of color.

Four Craft Artists Use Their Medium to Tell the Story of Our Times

The Renwick’s newest show challenges everything you thought you knew about craft art

The Smithsonian's Mary Hagedorn and hundreds of colleagues collaborated on the project, which used cryopreserved elkhorn coral sperm to fertilize live eggs to create larvae.

To Help Corals Fight Back, Scientists Are Breeding Populations Separated by Hundreds of Miles

A new study demonstrates that assisted reproduction using cryopreserved sperm leads to offspring that might be more resilient in the face of climate change

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