World History

Peter Mark Roget compiled his influential thesaurus late in life.

Before He Wrote a Thesaurus, Roget Had to Escape Napoleon's Dragnet

At the dawn of the 19th century, the young Brit got caught in an international crisis while touring Europe

Peace Corps volunteer Marya Cota-Wilson gives a gardening lesson in Costa Rica in the 1980s.

Why the Peace Corps’ Mission Is Needed Now More Than Ever

On its 60th anniversary, a moment of reckoning arrives for the nation's globe-trotting volunteers

Self-educated scholar Dennis McCarthy has spent the past 15 years studying the many connections between Shakespeare and little-known translator and writer Sir Thomas North.

Did Shakespeare Base His Masterpieces on Works by an Obscure Elizabethan Playwright?

The new book "North by Shakespeare" examines the link between the Bard of Avon and Sir Thomas North

Clothing and soft furnishings were cleaned with machines that used high-pressure steam and formaldehyde to kill germs and vermin.

Covid-19

This London Building Tells the Story of a Century's Worth of Disease and Epidemics

In the borough of Hackney, a 'disinfecting station' ostensibly kept the public safe from the spread of infectious illness

Albert Einstein arrived in New York on the SS Rotterdam IV; crowds of people awaited his arrival in the States.

One Hundred Years Ago, Einstein Was Given a Hero's Welcome by America's Jews

The German physicist toured the nation as a fundraiser for Zionist causes, even though he was personally torn on the topic of a Jewish nation

This month's book picks include The Light of Days, The Musical Human and Empire of Ants.

Books of the Month

Women Resistance Fighters of WWII, the Secret Lives of Ants and Other New Books to Read

These April releases elevate overlooked stories and offer insights on oft-discussed topics

Explore the true history and myths behind six “terrible” women, from the all-knowing Sphinx to the fire-breathing Chimera and the lesser-known shapeshifter Lamia.

Men Have Feared Women for Millennia. Just Look at the Monsters of Greek Mythology

A new collection of essays considers how the villainous women of classical antiquity, from Medusa to the Sphinx, resonate in contemporary Western society

Cover of the autobiography of Beba Epstein written in the 1933-34 school year, with a picture of her.

Smithsonian Voices

How the Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Girl Inspired an Exhibition

The discovery of a forgotten document leads to a deep dive into a Jewish family's Eastern European history that was all but lost

Occupying forces murdered all the inhabitants of 629 razed Belarusian villages, in addition to burning down another 5,454 villages and killing at least a portion of their residents. Pictured: A statue of Khatyn survivor Iosif Kaminsky in front of a Belarusian village destroyed in 1941

How the 1943 Khatyn Massacre Became a Symbol of Nazi Atrocities on the Eastern Front

Decades after the murder of 149 residents of a Belarusian village, the tragedy has taken on layers of meaning far removed from the attack itself

Merab Ninidze and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Courier.

Based on a True Story

The True Story Behind 'The Courier'

A new spy thriller draws on the fascinating life—and whopping lies—of one of the U.K.'s most famous intelligence agents

On March 13, 1996, a gunman murdered 16 students and their teacher at Dunblane Primary School in Scotland. Pictured: the class of 5- to 6-year-olds and their teacher, Gwen Mayor

History of Now

How the 1996 Dunblane Massacre Pushed the U.K. to Enact Stricter Gun Laws

A devastating attack at a Scottish primary school sparked national outcry—and a successful campaign for gun reform

Three women dressed in period garb as alewives. The tall hats became a part of witch iconography.

Why Did Women Stop Dominating the Beer Industry?

Strict gender norms pushed them out of a centuries-long tradition

Emilio Sanchez, who had come to the U.S. in his youth, was an ideal informant. Clockwise from top left: 1865 bird's eye view of New York and environs, capture of a slave ship off the African coast in 1859, silhouette representing Sanchez, and page from Sanchez's notes

How a Cuban Spy Sabotaged New York's Thriving, Illicit Slave Trade

Emilio Sanchez and the British government fought the lucrative business as American authorities looked the other way

As historian Nancy Marie Brown points out, “[A]sking not ‘Are the sagas true?’ but ‘Are they plausible?’” is a far better barometer for testing the Viking tales’ veracity.

Did a Viking Woman Named Gudrid Really Travel to North America in 1000 A.D.?

The sagas suggest she settled in Newfoundland and eventually made eight crossings of the North Atlantic Sea

Women in early modern Europe collected recipes for balms, distillations and elixirs to treat all manner of ailments.

Part of Being a Domestic Goddess in 17th-Century Europe Was Making Medicines

Housewives' essential role in health care is coming to light as more recipe books from the pre-Industrial Revolution era are digitized

Chinchero is an agrarian town about 45-minutes outside of Cusco known for its striking landscape of snow-capped mountains and lagoons connected by a system of wetlands, as well as its Inca ruins and famous Sunday market.

The Uphill Battle to Stop Peru From Building a New Airport Near Machu Picchu

Opinions are divided in the agrarian town of Chinchero, where the airport is slated to open in 2025

Engineers concluded that the museum building (above: the Assyrian Hall in February 2019) was structurally sound and could be repaired. But much work would need to be done.

Iraq's Cultural Museum in Mosul Is on the Road to Recovery

The arduous process, says the Smithsonian's Richard Kurin, is "a victory over violent extremism"

Black Banjo Reclamation Project founders Hannah Mayree and Carlton “Seemore Love” Dorsey, with banjos made by Brooks Masten of Brooks Banjos in Portland, Oregon.

Smithsonian Voices

A Quest to Return the Banjo to Its African Roots

The Black Banjo Reclamation Project aims to put banjos into the hands of everyday people

Jim McDowell holds his jug, “Emmett Till.”

Smithsonian Voices

How a Pioneering Ceramicist Is Using Pottery to Reclaim Black History

Jim McDowell, known to many simply as “the Black Potter,” is a ceramicist who specializes in a craft with deep connections to lost histories

Artist's rendering of a prehistoric human playing the ancient conch instrument

Cool Finds

Hear the Musical Sounds of an 18,000-Year-Old Giant Conch

The shell was played for the first time in millennia after being rediscovered in the collections of a French museum

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