From the Collections

“Bessie Coleman (above: with her Curtiss JN-4 "Jennie" in her custom designed flying suit, ca. 1924) was a real gutsy woman for the era,” says Dorothy Cochrane, a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. "Anyone else might have quit at any time.”

For Pilot Bessie Coleman, Every 'No' Got Her Closer to 'Yes'

Despite fierce obstacles in her path, the Black female aviator became a hero that would pave the way for generations to come

Ben Franklin by Joseph-Siffred Duplessis, ca 1785

Ben Franklin Lives in Your Smartphone

The 18th-century inventor discovered concepts that impact modern technology

A first edition of Phillis Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773), written while the poet was enslaved to John Wheatley of Boston. The book has a brown leather cover, the original Morocco spine label and a frontispiece featuring a portrait of Phillis by Scipio Morehead.


 

Women Who Shaped History

How Phillis Wheatley Beat All Expectations

The Revolution-era Boston establishment couldn't believe that the young African American woman wrote the exquisite book of poetry

The Moores' younger daughter, Evangeline, donated this locket and other personal artifacts to the Smithsonian in 2013.

This Locket Memorializes a Black Activist Couple Murdered in a Christmas 1951 Bombing

Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore attracted the KKK's ire for their tireless promotion of civil rights in the Jim Crow South

On April 25, 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope was deployed from the cargo bay of Space Shuttle Discovery.

A Look Back at Hubble's Interstellar Success

At the launch of the Webb Space Telescope, the legacy of America’s favorite eye in the sky is best remembered with a look at a Smithsonian artifact

The author of a penetrating new book, documenting the multi-layered complexities of the Miss America pageant (above: 1921, Atlantic City), writes about the contest's ongoing battle to remain relevant over its century of historic highs and lows.

How the Swimsuit Showdown Shaped the Miss America Contest

A new behind-the-scenes book, “There She Was,” and a Smithsonian collecting initiative celebrate the pageant’s centennial

"There isn't a Christmas that goes by that I don't sing 'Oh Holy Night,'" says Irma Thomas (above: in 2019 at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival) "If you listen to all the verses, it tells a beautiful story."

Irma Thomas' Rendition of 'O Holy Night' Is a Marvel From Beginning to End

Soulful Christmas music is an obsession for Bill Adler, so he interviewed the singer of one of his favorite songs

"As soon as this idea of aerial application for farming began to take shape, nearly everyone agreed this was the way to go,” says Dorothy Cochrane, curator at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, where one of only two known to exist, is on view.

The Little 'Puffer' That Could, and Did, Change an Industry

The Huff-Daland Duster ushered in the era of agriculture aviation

On October 24, 1944, the Battle of Leyte Gulf had just begun when two Hellcat pilots U.S. Navy Capt. David McCampbell and his wingman Ens. Roy Rushing spotted a squadron of 60 Japanese aircraft, including bombers escorted by Zeroes (above: a 1943 photograph of Grumman F6F Hellcats in flight).

In One Mission in October 1944, Two F6F Hellcats Shot Down a Record 15 Enemy Aircraft

U.S. Navy Pilots David McCampbell and Roy Rushing made history in a heroic air battle over the Leyte Gulf

Tinker Hatfield’s game-changing design for the Air Jordan XIII in pen and crayon, dated 1996.

What Made the Air Jordan a Slam-Dunk Design

The world is bonkers for sneakers. This pivotal 1996 concept for basketball superstar Michael Jordan is a big reason why

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

Titled Avant-Garde, the monumental shaped canvas alludes to Liu as a “guard” of a socialist reality she did not condone.

The Revolutionary Portraiture of Hung Liu

For this large-scale retrospective of the Asian American artist, who died this summer, east meets west in an exquisite collision

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 stock certificate pieced back together and encased in mylar

Smithsonian Voices

How Conservators Preserved This Stock Certificate Destroyed on 9/11

The certificate arrived in the Smithsonian's Paper Conservation Lab as a pile of paper bits stored in an envelope

Flight attendant Lorraine Bay carefully recorded every flight she worked in this log book, found near the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

September 11

Thirty-One Smithsonian Artifacts That Tell the Story of 9/11

From a Pentagon rescuer's uniform to a Flight 93 crew log, these objects commemorate the 20th anniversary of a national tragedy

Smithsonian Voices

How the Smithsonian Collected Artifacts That Told the Story of Hurricane Katrina

“The history of racial violence is often erased and highly contested in the battle to define American memory," says the museum's director Anthea Hartig, "and this vandalized sign demonstrates the ramifications of ongoing efforts of remembrance and social justice."

Smithsonian Displays Bullet-Riddled Sign That Documented Emmett Till's Horrific Murder

A month-long exhibition invites conversations addressing ongoing racism in America

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

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

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

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