U.S. History

Last September, an installation of almost 700,000 white flags on the National Mall paid tribute to the Americans who have died of Covid-19.

Covid-19

The Civil War Drastically Reshaped How Americans Deal With Death. Will the Pandemic?

Around 750,000 people died during the conflict—2.5 percent of the country's population at the time

Early efforts to sow hibiscus on the mainland had mixed success. Today it grows in many states; in the South, hibiscus used in punch is known as “Florida Cranberry.”

Race in America

A Brief History of Red Drink

The obscure roots of a centuries-old beverage that’s now a Juneteenth fixture

The Great Hall boasts works by nearly 50 American painters and sculptors.

What Makes the Library of Congress a Monument to Democracy

The world’s largest book repository has expanded far beyond its original scope to include sound recordings and digitized collections

Before the critical 1965 Supreme Court ruling Griswold v. Connecticut, state and federal morality laws prohibited access to contraceptives, even to married couples (above: a picketer protests the opening of a new Planned Parenthood Center in New Haven, Connecticut).

The Revolutionary 1965 Supreme Court Decision That Declared Sex a Private Affair

A Smithsonian curator of medicine and science looks back to the days when police could arrest couples for using contraception

AIM users could log on and instantly ping messages back and forth, remotely chatting with friends, colleagues and loved ones.

In the 25 Years Since Its Launch, AOL Instant Messenger Has Never Been 'Away'

While some aspects of AIM seem like relics of a different version of the internet, others remain deeply embedded in the social media landscape

As recent archival finds and reappraisals of well-known documents show, Liss forged her own path to freedom—and may have even spied on the British while doing so.

Women Who Shaped History

Did an Enslaved Woman Try to Warn the Americans of Benedict Arnold's Treason?

New research sheds light on Liss, who was enslaved by the family of a Culper Spy Ring leader and had ties to British spymaster John André

After his shooting, a hospitalized Wallace holds up a newspaper touting his victories in the Maryland and Michigan Democratic presidential primaries.

How a Failed Assassination Attempt Pushed George Wallace to Reconsider His Segregationist Views

Fifty years ago, a fame-seeker shot the polarizing politician five times, paralyzing him from the waist down

Cookbook author Grace Young set out to raise awareness of the struggle that Chinatown's business owners were facing, recording her “Coronavirus Stories”—short on-the-spot video interviews with members of the community.

Grace Young, Who Documented the Toll of Anti-Asian Hate on NYC's Chinatown, Receives Julia Child Award

A $50,000 grant is awarded to the culinary historian for her advocacy of Chinese-American culture and cuisine

The National Museum of American History and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum announced the joint acquisition of the historic kit envisioned by activist Martha Goddard.

Invented by a Woman Activist, an Early 1970s Rape Kit Arrives at the Smithsonian

Martha Goddard didn’t receive much recognition—instead she got the job done

Materials and manufacturing details of the specially made suit of America's first space traveler were extensively analyzed before being prepared for display on a customized mannequin.

The Second Man in Space Had a Wee Wish—That He'd Used the Bathroom Before Blasting Off

Alan B. Shepard's historic Mercury spacesuit undergoes hours of conservation work for its debut when the National Air and Space Museum opens this fall

Native American artists created the cave drawings sometime between 660 and 949 C.E.

3-D Scans Reveal Gigantic Native American Cave Art in Alabama

A new analysis identifies four life-size human figures and an 11-foot rattlesnake drawn on the ceiling of an unnamed cavern

The only available photograph of America Newton, a formerly enslaved woman who ran a laundry business out of her cabin in Julian, California, dates to around 1910.

The Trailblazing Black Entrepreneurs Who Shaped a 19th-Century California Boomtown

Though founded by Confederates, Julian became a place of opportunity for people of color—and a model for what the U.S. could look like after the Civil War

Richard Nixon (detail) by George Giusti, 1973

View the Granddaddy of Political Scandals in Oils, Cartoons and Sculpture

The 1972 Watergate break-in that led to Richard Nixon's resignation is the subject of a new exhibition

NATO troops from a battalion based in Fort Hood, Texas, train in Germany in September 1983, two months before the Able Archer 83 drill.

The 1983 Military Drill That Nearly Sparked Nuclear War With the Soviets

Fearful that the Able Archer 83 exercise was a cover for a NATO nuclear strike, the U.S.S.R. readied its own weapons for launch

This is how you really sweat to the oldies.

Want to Work Out Like Walt Whitman or Henry VIII? Try These Historic Fitness Regimens

Travel through time by lifting like passengers on the Titanic or swimming like the sixth U.S. president

Dance of the Heyoka by Oscar Howe (Yanktonai Dakota), 1954

Who Gets to Define Native American Art?

A pivotal letter from Oscar Howe, whose work is the focus of a new exhibition, demanded the right to free expression and the art world began to listen

A Long Island family sits in a "Kidde Kokoon" underground bomb shelter in 1955.

Digging Up the History of the Nuclear Fallout Shelter

For 75 years, images of bunker life have reflected the shifting optimism, anxieties and cynicism of the Atomic Age

At the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, the story of the Watergate whistleblower Martha Mitchell (detail, oil on canvas, Jan De Ruth, 1970) from Pine Bluff, Arkansas—who pundits dubbed the "Mouth of the South"—is revisited in a new exhibition, "Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue."

Martha Mitchell Was the Brash 'Mouth of the South' That Roared

A portrait reveals the dignity behind the maligned woman who stepped up to tell the truth

View of the Space Needle and the Century 21 Exposition fairgrounds in Seattle in 1962

The Rise and Fall of World's Fairs

Sixty years after Seattle's Century 21 Exposition, world's fairs have largely fallen out of fashion in the U.S.

A 19th-century illustration of two yellow fever victims in New Orleans

Race in America

How Yellow Fever Intensified Racial Inequality in 19th-Century New Orleans

A new book explores how immunity to the disease created opportunities for white, but not Black, people

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