Magazine

Louisiana Purchase State Park in Holly Grove, Arkansas, lies on the spot where the land surveys of the new territories originated.

How the United States Laid Claim to the Mississippi River, One Mile at a Time

Thomas Jefferson imagined the waterway as the heart of his “empire of liberty" as he dispatched surveyors to measure a land already occupied by Native Americans

A Spectra Physics Model A supermarket scanner—one of the first ten ever produced. A laser within the unit projects a beam onto a mirror that redirects it through the glass plate on the top.

The Supermarket Scanner Changed the Way We Buy Groceries Forever

Invented 50 years ago, the curious box deciphered an arcane kind of code to offer shoppers a trip into the future

Left, Rita Moreno, the Puerto Rican actress who played Anita in the 1961 film West Side Story. Right, the Italian opera singer Giulia Grisi in the 1830s.

An Absolutely Fabulous Celebration of History’s Greatest Divas

This heady, exquisitely delightful new book reveals the power behind the sequins

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Readers Respond to the April/May 2024 Issue

Your feedback on brilliant sea slugs, nostalgic drinks and hidden history

Looming large on Philadelphia’s Broad Street, a ten-foot-high statue—a gift to the city from the Pennsylvania Freemasons—shows young Benjamin Franklin at his printing press.

Benjamin Franklin Was the Nation’s First Newsman

Before he helped launch a revolution, Benjamin Franklin was colonial America’s leading editor and printer of novels, almanacs, soap wrappers, and everything in between

Speleologists in metallurgical “cooling suits” emerge from the extreme heat of a lava tube formed by the eruption in 2021 of Mount Fagradalsfjall.

Journey Into the Fiery Depths of Earth’s Youngest Caves

What Iceland's volcanoes are revealing about early life on our planet

The city gate of Ariassos, one of several ancient cities connected by the Pisidia Heritage Trail in the Taurus Mountains.

Hike Through Ancient Roman and Biblical History in Turkey’s Rugged Mountains

In southern Turkey, an extensive new trail network spirits trekkers to Pisidia, home to many lost treasures and a true crossroads of civilizations

This 2014 acrylic painting by Taralee Guild captures the glistening promise of a 1960s Airstream at Pismo Beach, California.

How the Airstream Hit the Open Road

This space-age sensation kicked the American road trip into high gear

The title page of one of the Folger’s First Folios.

How the Soon-to-Reopen Folger Shakespeare Library Came to Be

A full 82 copies of Shakespeare’s First Folio will go on view as the renovated Washington, D.C. institution makes its debut

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This Doctor Pioneered Counting Calories a Century Ago, and We’re Still Dealing With the Consequences

When Lulu Hunt Peters brought Americans a new method for weighing their dinner options, she launched a century of diet fads that left us hungry for a better way to keep our bodies strong and healthy

A male western snowy plover stands guard over his nest. During breeding season, males tend to the chicks while females seek a new mate. 

How Scientists Are Protecting Plovers’ Beachfront Lifestyle

Camouflaged by the sand, these threatened shorebirds aim to hide from predators. Now conservationists are trying to give their breeding efforts a boost

Portrait of Adèle Papin Playing the Harp, oil on canvas, c. 1799. The 17-year-old sitter, the famously beautiful daughter of a prominent family, was later rumored to be Napoleon's mistress. 

How This Caribbean-Born Artist Became the Toast of 18th-Century France

A new exhibition in Massachusetts illuminates the success of Guillaume Lethière

Fossilized footprints, preserved in gypsum mud that hardened over time, are estimated to be 23,000-21,000 years old. 

Tracking Humans’ First Footsteps in North America

At a site in New Mexico, a new discovery rewrites the human history of the continent

Where do we get the seeds for seedless fruit?

Where Do We Get Seeds for Seedless Fruit? And More Questions From Our Readers

You’ve got questions. We’ve got experts

Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum holds an estimated 8,000 terra-cotta soldiers.

What You Need to Know About China's Terra-Cotta Warriors and the First Qin Emperor

The thousands of clay soldiers guarding Qin Shi Huang's tomb are enduring representations of the ruler’s legacy

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Readers Respond to the March 2024 Issue

Your feedback on art fakes, Tiffany lamps and World War II recovery missions

Researchers hold a male red-cockaded woodpecker in Florida’s Osceola National Forest, making sure his tracking bands are correctly in place.

Endangered Woodpeckers Find a New Home on a Military Training Ground

The red-cockaded woodpecker has lost nearly all of its habitat in the southeastern United States, but an Air Force range in Florida is part of an emerging initiative to relocate besieged species on protected land

The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly, James Hampton's strange and transporting magnum opus. 
 


 

 

In His Garage, an Untrained Artist Created a Work of Sublime Divinity

How deep faith created one of the loveliest—and most curious—sacred objects in the Smithsonian collections

The Library Company reading room on Juniper Street in Philadelphia c. 1935, one of the group’s main locations from 1880 to 1935.

How Ben Franklin Invented the Library as We Know It

Books were rare and expensive in colonial America, but the founding father had an idea

Imagine dragons—or go for a dive in the Pacific Ocean and keep an eye out for this astonishing two-inch sea slug known as Goniobranchus sp. 1.

Dive Into the Exotic World of Nudibranchs, the Spectacular Slugs of the Sea

Psychedelic hedgehogs, purple pineapples, living strawberries—these tiny creatures show off their big personalities off the Australian coast

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