Ongoing studies of Neanderthal skeletons unearthed in Iraq during the 1950s suggest the existence of a more complex social structure than previously thought.

The Skeletons of Shanidar Cave

A rare cache of hominid fossils from the Kurdistan area of northern Iraq offers a window on Neanderthal culture

After being refused service at a Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth's, four African-American men launched a protest that lasted six months and helped change America.

Courage at the Greensboro Lunch Counter

On February 1, four college students sat down to request lunch service at a North Carolina Woolworth's and ignited a struggle

Almira Buffalo Bone Jackson (in 1994) once said that she would "dream the colors [of quilts] at night."

A Spectacular Collection of Native American Quilts

Tribes from the Great Plains used quilts as both a practical replacement of buffalo robes and a storytelling device

The cards and letters aboard the Graf Zeppelin bore a distinctive mark on their envelopes: a small image stamped in ink.

Holiday Delivery From the Graf Zeppelin

In 1934, a zeppelin originating in Germany and bound for Brazil carried a cargo of Christmas cheer

Artist Janice Lowry regarded the notebooks as “126 chapters of a memoir.” Her life’s journey, chronicled in her diaries, ended Sept. 20, 2009, when she succumbed to liver cancer.

Drawn From Life

Artist Janice Lowry's illustrated diaries record her history—and ours

From childhood on, abolitionist John Brown (in a c.1847 daguerreotype taken by Augustus Washington) had sworn "eternal war with slavery."

John Brown's Famous Photograph

An 1840s image captures an extremist's fervor

Merchant seaman Waldemar Semenov used this compass to steer toward safety.

A Compass Saves the Crew

A WWII sailor's memento recalls the harrowing ordeal when his ship, the SS Alcoa Guide, was struck by a German U-Boat

Although the lander may appear “flimsy and gangly,” says NASM curator Allan Needell, the craft represents “a very pure design built for a very specific mission.”

Apollo 11's Giant Leap for Mankind

When the lunar module landed on the moon, it provided an unforgettable moment for the millions watching back on Earth

Former Air Force pilot Brian Shul calls the super-fast SR-71 Blackbird "the most remarkable airplane of the 20th century."

The Ultimate Spy Plane

The SR-71 Blackbird, now featured in the Transformers movie sequel, was faster than a rifle bullet and flew 16 miles above the earth

Using this small compass, survivors of the SS Alcoa Guide were rescued after being attacked by a German submarine.

Finding One’s Way Through War-Torn Waters

A small compass that guided a lifeboat full of World War II seamen to safety goes on display at the Museum of American History

A Steichen photograph of two gowns by Madeleine Vionnet reflects the ease of movement for which Vionnet was known.  The name of the model in white is unrecorded; Marion Morehouse, in black, was one of the photographer's favorite models.

Edward Steichen: In Vogue

A painter by training, Edward Steichen changed fashion photography forever

Goodman played the clarinet even "during the commercial breaks of the World Series," according to one of his daughters.

Benny Goodman's Clarinet

Late in his career, jazz musician Benny Goodman favored a Parisian “licorice stick” as his instrument of choice

The miniature remote-controlled scout plane "helps alleviate the danger of what's over the hill," says aviation expert Ben Kristy.

Under the Radar with Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

The five-pound RQ-14A takes high-tech reconnaissance to new heights

Newborn David B. Miller had the company of his mother (covered by sheets), grandfather (masked) and photographer father.

Family of Man's Special Delivery

It took three generations to produce Wayne F. Miller's photograph of his newborn son

The only known image of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg was uncovered in 1952 at the National Archives.  It was taken by photographer Mathew Brady.

Gettysburg Address Displayed at Smithsonian

Lincoln's timeless speech during the Civil War endures as a national treasure


True to Form

An exact replica represents a particular North Atlantic whale

Channing (as Lorelei Lee, 1974) recalls taking her first bow in a dress encrusted with 40 pounds of bling: “I fell over forward and almost broke my teeth.”

All That Glitters

Carol Channing can't forget the night her gown got ransomed

Leifer's "handy" father helped rig the camera that caught the Dodgers' Willie Davis in mid-slide

It's in the Bag

Sports Illustrated photographer Neil Leifer hit a grand slam when he set out to capture a double play on film

President Theodore Roosevelt commissioned the double eagle in 1905. He later pronounced the gold piece to be “the best coin that has been struck for 2,000 years.”

Golden Grail

Few U.S. coins are rarer than the never circulated 1933 double eagle, melted down after the nation dropped the gold standard

Fakes are an all too real part of the museum world. “There are always artists capable of making and selling things that seem old,” says anthropologist Jane MacLaren Walsh.

Why the Smithsonian Has a Fake Crystal Skull

The Natural History Museum's quartz cranium highlights the epic silliness of the new Indiana Jones movie

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