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In "Lady in the Lake," Natalie Portman plays a fictional journalist who investigates a pair of mysterious deaths. The cases are inspired by the real-life disappearances of Esther Lebowitz and Shirley Lee Parker.

The Real Story Behind the Baltimore Deaths That Inspired 'Lady in the Lake'

A new mini-series offers a fictionalized take on two unrelated 1969 cases: the mysterious disappearance of bartender Shirley Lee Parker and the murder of 11-year-old Esther Lebowitz

President Ronald Reagan, pictured waving to a crowd shortly before John Hinckley Jr. tried to assassinate him on March 30, 1981

The History of Presidential Assassination Attempts, From Andrew Jackson to Teddy Roosevelt

Before last weekend's attack on Donald Trump, would-be assassins unsuccessfully targeted Ronald Reagan, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and seven other sitting presidents or candidates for office

From the real reason behind the Games' collapse to a breakdown of who was eligible to compete, here's what you need to know about the ancient Olympics.

Nine Things You Didn't Know About the Ancient Olympic Games

With an intensive athletes’ boot camp and the threat of execution for unwelcome spectators, the Greek sporting event was a serious affair

Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum in Fly Me to the Moon, a new movie directed by Greg Berlanti

How 'Fly Me to the Moon' Pokes Fun at Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories

The new Scarlett Johansson and Channing Tatum film presents an alternative history in which government officials prepared to fake the moon landing before NASA pulled off the feat for real

After Ronald Reagan stumbled through his answers and closing statement at the first presidential debate in 1984, Walter Mondale closed the gap in the polls. This photo was taken at the second debate two weeks later.

When a Debate Flop Raised Concerns About Ronald Reagan's Fitness to Run for Re-Election

During the 1984 campaign, the 73-year-old president meandered his way through his first face-off against Walter Mondale, prompting questions about his mental acuity

Olympic rings are seen on the Eiffel Tower near the restored statue of "Cavalier Arabe" on the Pont d'Iéna bridge in Paris on July 4, 2024, ahead of the upcoming Paris 2024 Olympic Games. 

The Paris Summer Olympics: Smithsonian's Guide to the Games

Prepare yourself for the Paris Olympics with this comprehensive guide to the history, science, arts and thrills of the worldwide celebration

To mark her graduation from dental school in 2021, Breanna Henley took photographs in front of a slave cabin at Redcliffe Plantation.

Why Descendants Are Returning to the Plantations Where Their Ancestors Were Enslaved

Some Black Americans are reclaiming antebellum estates as part of their family legacy, reflecting the power and possibility of these historic sites

A self-portrait taken in New York by Vivian Maier in 1954

Meet Vivian Maier, the Reclusive Nanny Who Secretly Became One of the Best Street Photographers of the 20th Century

The self-taught artist is getting her first museum exhibition in New York City, where she nurtured her nascent interest in photography

An 18th-century illustration of a jury of matrons

How All-Female 'Juries of Matrons' Shaped Legal History

Courts called on these jurors to determine whether women sentenced to death were pregnant or faking it to avoid execution

A woman named Evelyn Thaw dodges a camera, 1909

How the Rise of the Camera Launched a Fight to Protect Gilded Age Americans' Privacy

Early photographers sold their snapshots to advertisers, who reused the individuals' likenesses without their permission

Red Bear’s Winter Count, Martin E. Red Bear, canvas and acrylic paint, 2004

From Powwows to Smartphones, See the Past and Present of Indigenous Plains Life in Narrative Art

The National Museum of the American Indian showcases centuries-old narrative art traditions that a new generation of artists is embracing

Was Leicester Hemingway's micronation of New Atlantis a quixotic experiment in democracy or an elaborate improv comedy sketch? 

Why Ernest Hemingway's Younger Brother Established a Floating Republic in the Caribbean

On July 4, 1964, Leicester Hemingway founded New Atlantis, a raft-turned-micronation intended to support marine life in the region

The mythical beasts have fired up cultures around the world.

From China to the Mediterranean and More, Here's How Different Cultures Envision Dragons

In some parts of the world, the mythical creatures are monsters. In others, they’re more benign beings

Riders gallop during the Hawick Common Riding in Scotland.

The Festival Where Scotland's Violent History Comes Back to Life

Every year in the rolling hills of the Scottish Borders, one of Europe’s largest equestrian events commemorates a lawless time that shaped the region’s identity

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Tired of Diplomacy as Usual, This Congressman Flew Solo to Promote World Peace

Representative Peter F. Mack’s soaring diplomatic ambitions made aviation history as he traveled through Europe, South Asia, Japan and then across the vast Pacific Ocean

A 1914 photo of the Star-Spangled Banner undergoing conservation in the Smithsonian Castle

The Real Story Behind the Star-Spangled Banner, the Flag That Inspired the National Anthem

How the flag that flew proudly over Fort McHenry in September 1814 made its way to the Smithsonian

Tiana's Bayou Adventure is now open to the public.

What the Change of a Disney Park Ride Reflects About How America Sees Itself

Splash Mountain, originally based on the film ‘Song of the South,’ has become Tiana’s Bayou Adventure

York, the enslaved man who accompanied Lewis and Clark on their history-making expedition, appears in the rightmost canoe in this 1905 painting by Charles Marion Russell.

The Forgotten Black Explorers Who Transformed Americans' Understanding of the Wilderness

Esteban, York and James Beckwourth charted the American frontier between the 16th and 19th centuries

Attendants assist Thomas Hicks, an American runner who consumed strychnine, egg whites and brandy during the race.

How the 1904 Marathon Became One of the Weirdest Olympic Events of All Time

Athletes drank poison, dodged traffic, stole peaches and even hitchhiked during the 24.85-mile race in St. Louis

Arsenic tests for the Lydia Sherman trial of 1872

What a 100-Year-Old Lie Detector and 150-Year-Old Arsenic Tests Tell Us About Forensic Science Today

An exhibition at the National Museum of American History examines how humans influence and judge investigation techniques

Photo of the day

A cloudy, cold, drizzling downcast day in Delft, the Netherlands. A lone bicyclist travels a cobblestone street, oblivious to the weather. Bicycles are the preferred means of transportation here. Bicyclist in Delft