U.S. History

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When Coal First Arrived, Americans Said 'No Thanks'

Back in the 19th century, coal was the nation's newfangled fuel source—and it faced the same resistance as wind and solar today

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The Southbound Underground Railroad Brought Thousands of Enslaved Americans to Mexico

Rather than head north, many of those in bondage made a different treacherous journey in a bold quest for freedom that historians are now unearthing

The men of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops created elaborate illusions featuring inflatable tanks, jeeps and artillery.

How the Ghost Army of WWII Used Art to Deceive the Nazis

Unsung for decades, the U.S. Army's 23rd Headquarters Special Troops drew on visual, sonic and radio deception to misdirect the Germans

The new Smithsonian show examines the foundational contributions of Latinos in shaping the history and culture of the United States. 

You Can Now Preview the Upcoming Latino Museum

New exhibition "¡Presente!" aims to show how Latinos shaped American history

The single-engine, single-seat Turner RT-14 Meteor is the "epitome of what a 1930s air racer in the United States would be: big engine, big propeller, small profile,” says the museum's Jeremy Kinney.

The Record-Shattering Airplane Behind a Dashing Pilot’s Meteoric Rise to Fame

Roscoe Turner's air racer takes center stage this fall when newly renovated galleries open at the National Air and Space Museum

As of June 15, the World Health Organization had recorded a total of 2,103 confirmed monkeypox cases in 42 countries. Pictured: a colorized transmission electron micrograph of monkeypox virus particles (green) cultivated and purified from cell culture

History of Now

What You Need to Know About the History of Monkeypox

Mired in misconception, the poxvirus is endemic in certain African countries but was rarely reported in Europe and the U.S. until recently

Austin Butler as Elvis in the new biopic

Based on a True Story

The True History Behind Baz Luhrmann's 'Elvis'

The new film dramatizes the life and legend of Elvis Presley from the perspective of his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker

World Cup champion Samantha Mewis (above: in the May 26, 2019 International Friendly match against Mexico) and her colleagues sued the U.S. Soccer Federation for equal pay. In 2022, U.S. Soccer agreed to pay the women some $24 million in back pay.

Enacted 50 Years Ago, Title IX Is More Relevant Than Ever

New exhibit highlights female athletes who gained opportunities and the controversies that still surround the statute

Aerial view of flooding in Livingston, Montana—a gateway town near Yellowstone National Park—on June 14, 2022

History of Now

What Extreme Flooding in Yellowstone Means for the National Park's Gateway Towns

These communities rely almost entirely on tourism for their existence—yet too much tourism, not to mention climate change, can destroy them

Members of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps pose on Minerva Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park in 1896.

The Black Buffalo Soldiers Who Biked Across the American West

In 1897, the 25th Infantry Regiment Bicycle Corps embarked on a 1,900-mile journey from Montana to Missouri

On average, Osborne experienced 20 to 40 involuntary diaphragm spasms per minute. In total, he hiccupped an estimated 430 million times before his death in May 1991 at age 97.

The Curious Case of Charles Osborne, Who Hiccupped for 68 Years Straight

A 1922 accident sparked the Iowa man’s intractable hiccups, which suddenly subsided in 1990

In her new historic novel, Brooks reimagines the life of the itinerant artist Thomas J. Scott, who rendered the distinguished race horse in the oil painting, Portrait of Lexington, ca. 1857, a work that Smithsonian curator Eleanor Harvey describes as "visually riveting."

The Lost Story of Lexington, the Record-Breaking Thoroughbred, Races Back to Life

For her latest novel “Horse,” the Pulitzer-prize winning author Geraldine Brooks found inspiration in the Smithsonian collections

The book included reader-supplied recommendations for clubs and baths in countries such as South Africa, Yugoslavia and Panama. Two-thirds of the 1965 edition, though, were devoted to the U.S.

LGBTQ+ Pride

Where Could Gay Men Dine in the 1960s South? This Coded Guide Held the Answers

For locals and tourists alike, the "International Guild Guide" identified places of refuge in a ruthlessly homophobic society

In a 1929 column, Amelia Earhart name-checked Keating as an example of a woman in aviation who had beaten the odds, writing, "She photographs from the air and helps make the beautifully accurate maps which compose aerial surveys."

Women Who Shaped History

In 1920s New York, This Woman Typist Became a Pioneering Aerial Photographer

Edith Keating survived the Halifax Explosion and eventually took to the skies, marking a path for other women to fly in her wake

Hassinger's video (above: Birthright by Maren Hassinger, 2005) is a powerful history of seven orphaned children, a story of stolen labor and stolen lives, a family chronicle “that came out of being enslaved, the aftermath of slavery,” says the artist.

Join in a Meditation on the Twists of Memories Handed Down From One Generation to Another

A new commission, based on the acclaimed video 'Birthright' by artist Maren Hassenger, explores the legacy of slavery in family history

At a time of widespread public health crises and evolving ideas about how illnesses spread, kissing was an easily avoidable vector of disease. Unfortunately for Imogene Rechtin, most people proved unwilling to give it up.

The Woman Who Fought to End the 'Pernicious' Scourge of Kissing

New understandings of how disease spread informed Imogene Rechtin's ill-fated 1910 campaign to ban a universal human practice

According to author Christopher A. Thomas, the dedication "was a microcosm of the strained race relations of its day, marked by the rhetoric of good intentions and the behavior of bigotry."

A Century Ago, the Lincoln Memorial's Dedication Underscored the Nation's Racial Divide

Seating was segregated, and the ceremony's only Black speaker was forced to drastically revise his speech to avoid spreading "propaganda"

Tom Cruise revives his Top Gun role as Pete "Maverick" Mitchell in the new film arriving in theaters May 27.

'Top Gun' Is Back. But Is the Elite Navy Fighter Pilot School Really Like the Movies?

The Smithsonian’s Chris Browne flew the much-feared F-14, and as a former TOPGUN student, knows well the power of a Navy-trained fighter pilot

The archive of written work and speeches delivered by suffragists simply doesn’t indicate that abortion was at the forefront of discussions about women’s rights during the mid-19th to early 20th centuries.

History of Now

What Did the Suffragists Really Think About Abortion?

Contrary to contemporary claims, Susan B. Anthony and her peers rarely discussed abortion, which only emerged as a key political issue in the 1960s

In August 1994, Cuba's leader Fidel Castro announced a reprieve in the enforcement of laws governing emigration (above: a homemade raft sets off from the coast near Havana on August 22, 1994) and as a result nearly 35,000 left the island.  

A Makeshift Raft Speaks to the Risks Cubans Took to Escape Their Homeland

In the mid-1990s, tens of thousands left in boats or handcrafted floats facing treacherous waters in search of a better life

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