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Adam Driver (left) plays Jacques Le Gris, a French squire accused of raping Marguerite, wife of knight Jean de Carrouges (right, played by Matt Damon).

Based on a True Story

The True History Behind 'The Last Duel'

A new film from Ridley Scott dramatizes the 1386 trial by combat of a medieval man accused of a horrific crime

In October 1971, Disney World "cast members" pose with celebrity Mickey Mouse at one of the theme park's grand opening ceremonies. 

In the Magic Kingdom, History Was a Lesson Filled With Reassurance

Fifty years ago, Disney World's celebrated opening promised joy and inspiration to all; today the theme park is reckoning with its white middle-class past

Photo of 1982 excavation at North Shore site

Race in America

Before Rhode Island Built Its State House, a Racist Mob Destroyed the Community That Lived There

In 1831, a group of white rioters razed the Providence neighborhood of Snowtown. Now, archaeologists are excavating its legacy

An X-ray fluorescence scanner analyzes correspondence of Marie Antoinette and Fersen at France’s National Archives.

X-Ray Technology Reveals Marie Antoinette's Censored Secret Correspondence

A combination of the chemical analysis and advanced data processing used could reveal many more lost writings or drawings

In Six, Henry VIII's wives (top row, L to R: Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour; bottom row, L to R: Anne of Cleves, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr) reclaim their stories.

Based on a True Story

The True History Behind 'Six,' the Tudor Musical About Henry VIII's Wives

The show's creators, Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss, reflect on the smash hit ahead of its Broadway premiere

The Surprising Artistic Life of Ancient Sparta

Poets and lyricists populated the Greek civilization

A monument in Thermopylae to King Leonidas.

Sparta Was Much More Than an Army of Super Warriors

Fierce? Yes. Tough? You bet. But the true history of the Greek civilization had a lot more nuance

None

How Science Conquered Diphtheria, the Plague Among Children

It was highly contagious, lethal and mysterious. Then medical experts developed treatments and vaccines, and the affliction disappeared—but not entirely

Mary Ware Dennett wrote The Sex Side of Life in 1915 as a teaching tool for her teenage sons.

The Sex Education Pamphlet That Sparked a Landmark Censorship Case

Women's rights activist Mary Ware Dennett was arrested in 1929 for mailing a booklet deemed "obscene, lewd or lascivious"

The Paul Family Quilt (1830-35), on display in "Fabric of a Nation: American Quilt Stories," was made for a four-poster bed.

American History as Seen Through Quilts

For historians, the textiles are much more than just decorative covers for a bed

The massive 170,000-pound Discovery measures 122 feet long by 58 feet tall with a wingspan of 78 feet.

Following the 1986 and 2003 Shuttle Disasters, 'Discovery' Launched America Back Into Space

This "Champion of the Fleet," a signature Smithsonian artifact, flew 39 space missions and traveled 150 million miles

The “Assasin’s Creed” series, famous for using real historical events as a backdrop to the games, have gone through scenarios such as the Crusades, the American Revolution and the Golden Age of Piracy.

When Playing Video Games Becomes a History Lesson

On campuses across the country, professors are putting historically based games into the classroom

The National Weather Service Began as a Crowdsourcing Experiment

Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry used an army of volunteers in what would eventually become the nation's weather forecasting operation

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death for captive apes.

Ask Smithsonian

How Do Gorillas Get Heart Disease? And More Questions From Our Readers

You've got questions. We've got experts

In the modern era, the European discovery of North American became a proxy for conflicts between American Protestants and Catholics, as well as northern Europeans who claimed Vikings like Leif Eriksson (left) as their ancestors and southern Europeans who touted links to Columbus (right) and the monarchs of Spain.

Viking Map of North America Identified as 20th-Century Forgery

New technical analysis dates Yale's Vinland Map to the 1920s or later, not the 1440s as previously suggested

The Tuxtla statuette, discovered in Veracruz, Mexico, in 1902, now resides in the National Museum of Natural History.

What Secrets Does This 1,800-Year-Old Carved Stone Hold?

The Tuxtla Statuette illuminates an endangered Latin American culture

Since the 1920s, this unique piece of history has only been displayed publicly three times.

This Civil War–Era Eagle Sculpture Was Made Out of Abraham Lincoln's Hair

The unusual artifact also contains tresses from First Lady Mary Lincoln, members of the president's cabinet and senators

Actor James Madio played Easy Company T-4 Frank Perconte.

Based on a True Story

'Band of Brothers' Stars Reflect on the Epic Miniseries' Evolving Legacy

HBO's beloved World War II drama premiered 20 years ago this month

During the 2017 Grocery Walk, more than 500 protestors demanded greater investment in food access programs and healthy food retail options in a local Washington D.C. community.

In a City Flush With Power and Wealth, D.C.'s Ward 8 Faces Food Inequity

Eleven percent of U.S. households experience hunger; an expansive, new exhibition focuses how a local community manages this national problem

Riders outside the Patee House Museum in St. Joseph, Missouri, the route's eastern terminus. Every year the National Pony Express Association conducts an annual re-ride of the famous delivery route.

Six Stops on the Pony Express That You Can Still Visit

Established 160 years ago, the short-lived route was once the quickest way to deliver mail across the United States

Photo of the day

Close up of a damselfly with drops of water on its face. Damselfly