November 2013

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101 Objects That Made America

Pulled from the Smithsonian collections, these items range millennia, from pre-historic dinosaurs to the very first supercomputer

American buffalo

American Buffalo

Whether roaming free or stuffed, this symbol tells a thousand stories

Audubon plate

Audubon Plate

An amateur naturalist’s unparalleled artworks still inspire conservationists and collectors alike

Life preserver

Life Preserver

Explorer John Wesley Powell filled in “great blank spaces” on the map

Neil Armstrong spacesuit

Neil Armstrong’s Spacesuit

A wearable spacecraft let humans take one giant leap away from Earth

Burgess Shale

Burgess Shale

Famed fossils are a link to some of the first complex creatures on earth

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman Photograph

A haunting image captures America’s quintessential poet

Ceasar Chavez

Chavez’s Jacket

A farmworker’s initiative improved lives in America’s fields, and beyond

Sandra Day O'Connor

Justice O'Connor's Robe

A traditional garment symbolizes a commitment to the rule of law

Abraham Lincoln top hat

Lincoln’s Top Hat

It defined the great president in life—and now links us to his final hours

predator drone

Predator Drone

Unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft changed the character of war

clovis points

Clovis Points

Beautifully crafted blades point to America’s first successful culture

singer sewing machine, Martha Stewart

Singer Sewing Machine

A homemaker’s convenience clothed a nation

Eniac computers

Eniac Computer

A look back at the room-size government computer that began the digital era

ration ticket

Ration Ticket

Forced onto reservations, Indians gave up a traditional way of life

Aids quilt

AIDS Quilt

A patchwork of talent and grief traced the course of a plague

John Deere plow

John Deere Plow

A steel blade turned Midwestern mud into the nation’s breadbasket

Negro league baseball

Negro League Baseball

Segregated teams opened the national pastime to African-Americans



Wildly popular with girls, a new doll irked the women’s movement

Richard Petty car

Richard Petty's Stock Car

The chariot of the King

Spirit of St. Louis

Spirit of St. Louis

A daring flight shrank the world and created the first global celebrity


Pocahontas Engraving

The Indian princess saved Jamestown colony—and spawned fairy tales


Giant Panda

Millions adore the furry exemplars of China’s “soft power”

Alabama church bombing

Stained Glass Shards

A church bombing killed four girls and galvanized the civil rights movement

birth control

The Pill

A new birth control method gave women unprecedented power and revolutionized daily life