January/February 2024

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Ancestors family tree

Tracing a Lost Ancestry

For millions of enslaved people, bondage stole more than freedom—it severed a link to the past. Now their descendants are finding new ways to recover their heritage

OPENER - Born in Cameroon, Ada Anagho Brown moved to the United States as a child and now plans trips to Central and West African countries based on her clients’ DNA.


Ada Anagho Brown connects African Americans with the lands and cultures their forebears were forced to leave behind

Man dressed as a Civil War soldier

Civil War History, Reframed

A bold new photographic project celebrates Black heroes of the conflict that transformed the nation

a plaque surrounded by grass honoring the spot where a mass grave was found

Origin Stories

In Charleston, South Carolina, members of the local Black community are teaming up with scientists to produce a novel study of the trans-Atlantic slave trade

OPENER - A leatherback turtle returns to the sea after nesting. Females spend three to five months at a time nesting, laying eggs for periods of about nine days.

The Leatherback Guardians

In Panama, conservationists are tracking endangered turtles—and fighting for their legal rights

Opener - Ai Weiwei

No Place Like Home

Now in self-imposed exile in Portugal, Artist Ai Weiwei is constructing a massive edifice that captures his earliest ambitions—and his love for the country he can’t return to yet can’t seem to forget

Nubian giraffes in South Sudan during an aerial survey in April 2023. The area is home to what is probably the planet’s largest land mammal migration.

Running Mates

As giraffe populations plummet across Africa, scientists have designed an ingenious method to study and protect them

OPENER - Paola Magni in 2022, taking a water sample from Italy’s Lake Bracciano—the site of the mysterious death of a local teenager, ten years before.

Under the Surface

At crime scenes around the world, the forensic entomologist Paola Magni is taking the study of bugs into uncharted waters


Robert S. Duncanson and James P. Ball Were the Height of Black Artistry in 19th-Century America

A new exhibition at the Smithsonian American Art Museum reunites the work of two titans of their fields


Your feedback on robot artists, marsupial frogs and abolitionist icons

Command Center

The general's war tent, an iconic part of the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, carries as much symbolism now as it did then

A Feast for the Senses

A sumptuous new exhibition of Islamic art aims to leave museumgoers hungry for more

A Whole New Music

In the most American recording in history, one of our greatest jazzmen raised the stakes for everyone who came after

Second Nature

A new generation is discovering the rambling Southern route of the country’s first great environmentalist

Making a Racket

How an obscure paddle sport became king of the court

Heads Up!

How an eye-popping museum specimen boosted the beleaguered blue whale

The Writing on the Wall

With help from a now-extinct bear, archaeologists have unlocked the mysteries of Spain’s Cova Dones

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