U.S. History

In the aftermath of the Civil War, more than four million newly freed Blacks sought fulfillment of the promises laid out in the U.S. Constitution. Says Kinshasha Holman Conwill, NMAAHC's deputy director: "The shadow of Reconstruction is a long shadow." (Above: Lewis "Big June" Marshall carries the flag during the Selma to Montgomery March in 1965.)

A Profound Demand to Make Good on the Promises of Freedom

A new NMAAHC book and exhibition examine the reverberating legacies of the post Civil War Reconstruction Era

The Brick Store Museum in Kennebunk, Maine, hosts an "All Souls Walk" at the town's Hope Cemetery.

In Cemeteries Across the Country, Reenactors Are Resurrecting the Dead

Gravesite readings and performances keep the stories of the dearly departed alive for a new generation

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

A starlit night at Joshua Tree National Park.

What Does the Future Hold for the Joshua Tree?

The beloved desert denizen is feeling the heat

Attorney, author, scholar and reverend Pauli Murray, pictured here on December 22, 1976

LGBTQ+ Pride

The Trailblazing, Multifaceted Activism of Lawyer-Turned-Priest Pauli Murray

New documentary tells the story of a Black and LGBTQ thinker who helped lay the legal groundwork for fighting gender- and race-based discrimination

Almost 75 years after the mobster’s death, an eclectic bunch of enthusiasts continue to chase his memory.

Inside the Global Cult of Al Capone

A recent auction of the Chicago gangster's mementos testifies to his enduring appeal—and the thorny nature of collecting items owned by criminals

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

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

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

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

Over the span of two years, Washington visited all 13 original states (14 if you count Maine, which was then part of Massachusetts), traveling on horseback and by carriage along rutted dirt roads and over rising rivers.

When George Washington Took a Road Trip to Unify the U.S.

Nathaniel Philbrick’s new book follows the first president on his 1789 journey across America

Smoke pours from the west wing of the Pentagon building September 11, 2001 in Arlington, Virginia, after a plane crashed into the building and set off a huge explosion.

Smithsonian Voices

Smithsonian's Chris Browne Was the Manager at Ronald Reagan National Airport on 9/11

The acting director of the National Air and Space Museum reflects 20 years later on the rapid grounding of air traffic across the US

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

Boats arrive at Manhattan's Battery to rescue New Yorkers from the devastation wrought by the 9/11 attacks.

On 9/11, a Flotilla of Ferries, Yachts and Tugboats Evacuated 500,000 People Away From Ground Zero

Amidst the terror and tragedy of the day came these everyday heroes who answered the call when the city needed them most

Clockwise from top left: Charity Adams Earley, Harriet Tubman, Edith Nourse Rogers, Lori Piestewa and Mary E. Clarke

Women Who Shaped History

Five Women Veterans Who Deserve to Have Army Bases Named After Them

The U.S. Army has 10 installations named after Confederate generals. Zero are named after women

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

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