U.S. History

Participants on a bus tour at the 2014 community pilgrimage to Tule Lake

Why the Language We Use to Describe Japanese American Incarceration During World War II Matters

A descendant of concentration camp survivors argues that using the right vocabulary can help clarify the stakes when confronting wartime trauma

Fascinating finds unveiled in 2023 ranged from a 12-sided object that may have been used for sorcery to a lost Rembrandt portrait.

Cool Finds

117 Fascinating Finds Revealed in 2023

The year's most exciting discoveries included a stolen Vincent van Gogh painting, a hidden medieval crypt and a gold-covered mummy

A pneumatic mail tube at the main Post Office Department branch in New York City, circa 1914 or 1915

When a Labyrinth of Pneumatic Tubes Shuttled Mail Beneath the Streets of New York City

Powered by compressed air, the system transported millions of letters between 1897 and 1953

Between Christmas Day in 1941 and April 1, 1946, North Platte Canteen volunteers met as many as 24 trains carrying 3,000 to 5,000 military personnel every day.

Untold Stories of American History

How the Women of the North Platte Canteen Fed Six Million Soldiers During World War II

Volunteers based out of a Nebraska train station offered American troops encouragement and free food, including birthday cakes and popcorn balls

“There’s something about these characters,” says department store historian Michael Lisicky. “So many of [them] are so wonderfully regional, and that’s why they’re still so powerful.” Featured characters include Uncle Mistletoe, Billie the Brownie, Christopher Candycane and Mr. Bingle.

Meet a Dozen Lesser-Known Christmas Characters, From Mr. Jingeling to Uncle Mistletoe

Created as department store marketing tools, many of these seasonal figures became beloved holiday traditions

The Bostonians’ “preferred outcome” was for the tea to be “peacefully sent back to London,” says historian Benjamin L. Carp. “It’s only when they find out … the governor is not going to let [that happen] that they say, ‘Well, we have no choice [but] to destroy [the tea].”

The Many Myths of the Boston Tea Party

Contrary to popular belief, the 1773 protest opposed a tax break, not a tax hike. And it didn't immediately unify the colonies against the British

Nine-year-old Neikoye Flowers (foreground), photographed in 2023 wearing in a Civil War uniform like the one worn by his ancestor, David Miles Moore, Jr. (background),160 years ago.

There's More to That

When Your Great-Great-Great-Grandfather Is a Civil War Hero

Can recreating photographs from the 19th century connect a family to its lost heritage?

Jared Miller poses as his ancestor Richard Oliver, a soldier in the 20th Colored Infantry, at Penumbra Tintype Portrait Studio in New York City.

Descendants of Black Civil War Heroes Wear Their Heritage With Pride

A bold new photographic project asks modern-day Americans to recreate portraits of their 19th-century ancestors in painstakingly accurate fashion

Lionel Licorish, a 23-year-old sailor from Barbados, spent 14 hours keeping a lifeboat afloat in stormy conditions and swimming through shark-infested waters to rescue survivors of the Vestris disaster.

Untold Stories of American History

The Black Sailor Whose Heroic Actions During a Shipwreck Made Him an Instant Celebrity of the Roaring Twenties

Lionel Licorish earned accolades for rescuing as many as 20 passengers from the wreckage of the S.S. "Vestris"

Norman Lear at home in Los Angeles in 1984

Norman Lear Brought Big Issues to the Small Screen

At his peak, the television icon, who died at 101, reached more than 120 million Americans with shows like "All in the Family"

At the beginning of the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant wasn’t an abolitionist, admitting that his beliefs were “not even what could be called antislavery.” By August 1863, he had changed his mind, writing, “Slavery is already dead and cannot be resurrected.”

Unraveling Ulysses S. Grant's Complex Relationship With Slavery

The Union general directly benefited from the brutal institution before and during the Civil War

Sandra Day O'Connor, Michael Arthur Worden Evans, circa 1982

Women Who Shaped History

How Sandra Day O’Connor Brought Compromise to the Supreme Court

The first woman justice to serve on the nation's highest court died on Friday at age 93

The premier lady of sex work in Victorian St. Louis built an empire estimated to be worth at least $100,000—the equivalent of about $3.7 million today.

Women Who Shaped History

The Formerly Enslaved Black Bordello Queen Who Built a Notorious Business Empire

In 19th-century St. Louis, Madam Priscilla Henry earned a life-changing fortune—and scores of enemies vying for her crown

A portrait of the congressman by the famous photographer Mathew Brady, c. 1860.

Why America Is Just Now Learning to Love Thaddeus Stevens, the 'Best-Hated Man' in U.S. History

The Pennsylvanian was one of America’s greatest heroes. Why hasn’t he gotten his due?

Icaria was guided by a single principle: “to each following his needs, from each following his strengths,” as Cabet put it.

Untold Stories of American History

The 19th-Century Novel That Inspired a Communist Utopia on the American Frontier

The Icarians thought they could build a paradise, but their project was marked by failure almost from the start

A glass of homemade eggnog dusted with cinnamon is a mouthwatering prospect to some—and an abomination to others.

The Uniquely American History of Eggnog, Everyone's Favorite—or Least Favorite—Holiday Quaff

This Yuletide mainstay continues to warm cockles and ventricles everywhere

An original Michtom teddy bear once held by two of Teddy Roosevelt’s great-grandchildren, Mark and Anne.

The Teddy Bear Was Once Seen as a Dangerous Influence on Young Children

Inspired by a moment of empathy from President Theodore Roosevelt, the huggable toy had a rocky start before it became the stuff of legend

Bradley Cooper as Leonard Bernstein in Maestro, a new film that arrives on Netflix on December 20

Based on a True Story

The Real History Behind Leonard Bernstein and Felicia Montealegre's Marriage in 'Maestro'

The Bradley Cooper-led film is a dramatization of the storied composer and conductor's complex love life

President John F Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and Texas Governor John Connally ride through the streets of Dallas, Texas prior to the assassination on November 22, 1963.

Inside the Autopsy Room: The Details Doctors Gathered About JFK’s Assassination

Sixty years ago, three pathologists at the National Naval Medical Center examined the president's fatal wounds

Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter dancing at the presidential Inaugural Ball in January 1977

Women Who Shaped History

From the Governor's Mansion to the White House and Beyond, Rosalynn Carter Was a Tireless Advocate for the Vulnerable

Smithsonian experts reflect on the life and legacy of the former first lady, who died Sunday at age 96

Page 2 of 159