Articles

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

Herr, Thomas & Co., Pittsburg, PA. Catalogue No. 101 (1907), page 74, Dresser Trunk, Suit Case, Leather Suit Case, Cabinet Bag, Trunk, Steamer Trunk, Hand Bag or Satchel.

Smithsonian Voices

Pack Your Bags Like It's 1907

Early 20th century trade catalogs highlight a range of sturdy, vintage satchels and trunks

In this long exposure picture, trees burn on a hillside behind Honey Lake campground during the Dixie Fire on August 18, 2021 in Milford, California. The wildfire in Northern California continues to grow, burning over 626,000 acres according to CalFire.

Innovation for Good

From Supercomputers to Fire-Starting Drones, These Tools Help Fight Wildfires

As climate change worsens wildfires in the West, agencies are tapping into new technologies to keep up with the flames

The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip Hop and Rap tracks the evolution of the genre from its music to its culture and to its people. "Everything that is part of hip-hop," says the Smithsonian's Dwandalyn Reece, curator of music and performing arts.

Chronicling Hip-Hop's 45-Year Ascendance as a Musical, Cultural and Social Phenom

The groundbreaking box set "Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap" features 129 tracks, liner notes and an illustrated 300-page compendium

Many terrestrial birds disappeared in Barro Colorado Island, in the Panama Canal, despite their abundance in adjacent mainland forests, because they could not cross Gatun Lake to maintain populations on the island.

Smithsonian Voices

Despite a Century of Protection, This Island Suffers Critical Loss in Biodiversity

The Barro Colorado bird community has lost about a quarter of its species over time

Walker's map is now in the Smithsonian's archives. In an 1873 report, he described relics he'd found, including "immense quantities of broken pottery."

This Map Details Florida's Disappearing Native American Landscape

A 19th-century reporter’s invaluable guide offers a look at the earliest residents of the area surrounding the Tampa Bay

A nurse administers the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in Los Angeles, California, in August. More than one million individuals have gotten a third dose of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in the United States.

Covid-19

Six Important Questions About Booster Shots Answered

Experts weigh in who needs the shot first, when it should happen and how it will help

American Black Duck by Peter Daverington at Halletts Point, Queens, is one of nearly 100 murals that make up the Audubon Mural Project.

The Audubon Mural Project Brings Threatened Birds Back to New York City

From purple finches to whiskered screech owls, artists are expanding a colorful flock of public artworks in Upper Manhattan

The bold, brilliant Mary Wroth with a string instrument called a theorbo, circa 1620.

The Secret Codes of Lady Wroth, the First Female English Novelist

The Renaissance noblewoman is little known today, but in her time she was a notorious celebrity

Olive sea snakes are among the largest marine snake species and sometimes make contact with divers.

Venomous Sea Snakes That Charge Divers May Just Be Looking for Love

A new study suggests apparent attacks are actually fleeting cases of mistaken identity

Mosquitoes are more than blood-sucking menaces. They also pollinate flowers, have intricate sex lives and eat other disease-carrying mosquitoes.

Smithsonian Voices

The Unexpected Beauty, Benefits and Diversity of the Mosquito, the World's Most Hated Insect

While some are a nuisance, others working as nighttime pollinators may be critically important to a functioning ecosystem

Women who responded to the call of duty on 9/11, shown at the Ground Zero Memorial in Lower Manhattan. Back row: EMT Bonnie Giebfried, NYPD Chief of Transportation Kim Royster, NYPD Chief of Interagency Operations Theresa Tobin, Firefighter Regina Wilson. Front row (all now retired): FDNY Captain Brenda Berkman, Detective Sergeant Sue Keane, Assistant Port Authority Police Chief Norma Hardy.

Twenty Years Later, First Responders and Families Remember the People They Lost on 9/11

These portraits of resilience recall the day when loved ones, friends and colleagues perished in the terrorist attacks

Both beer and wine are thought to predate distilled spirits.

Ask Smithsonian

'Which Came First: Beer or Wine?' and More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts

In the Southwest, Morris documented what she described as a “treasure trove”—a “topography rich in large dry caves, neatly adapted to ancient dwellings and graveyards.”

Women Who Shaped History

Groundbreaking Archaeologist Ann Axtell Morris Finally Gets the Cinematic Treatment

Nearly a century after Morris excavated ancestral Native lands, filmmakers return with an inclusive approach that brings Navajo Nation onto the big screen

The Marchioness (2016) depicts a member of the fictional UmuEze Amara family, "one of the oldest noble clans in Nigeria."

Imagining a Different History for Africa Through Art

Toyin Ojih Odutola conjures a world that might have been

SpongeBob on a stick is the closest we come today to the forgotten fad of molded ice cream.

The Lost Art of Molding Ice Cream Into Eagles, Tugboats and Pineapples

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, ice cream makers used metal casts to create fanciful desserts

Male acorn woodpeckers, like the one on the left, have more offspring over their lives when they’re polygamous, according to new research.

Smithsonian Voices

Polygamy Helps Male Acorn Woodpeckers Thrive

The findings of a new study could help scientists learn more about how social behaviors evolved in other animals

Construction of multiple telescopes has begun on Saishiteng Mountain—near the town of Lenghu in the Qinghai province of China. The site could be China’s first major observatory, on par with those in Hawaii, Chile, and the Canary Islands.

Future of Space Exploration

Why the Tibetan Plateau Might Be the Ideal Spot for the Telescope of the Future

A team in China has identified a location that could give the Eastern Hemisphere its first major observatory

Pocket watch with engraved, gold-plated case found on the body of postal clerk John Starr March. The hands point to 1:27, around when the Titanic sank on the morning of April 15, 1912.

What a Watch Tells Us About the Titanic's Final Hours

The handheld item, belonging to an American crew member, stopped minutes before the ship sank

The worn hands and nubby fingernails of Bentonia, Mississippi, bluesman Jimmy "Duck" Holmes reflect his years of experience. Holmes is one of the last bluesmen who play a style known as Bentonia blues.

At an Old Juke Joint in Mississippi, the Blues Are Alive

Jimmy Holmes is the last in a line of music legends as he seeks to keep a singular American art form thriving

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