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

Playwright David Mamet writes that whether roaming free or stuffed, this symbol of the West 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 – at times buoyed by a life preserver

Neil Armstrong spacesuit

Neil Armstrong’s Spacesuit

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

Burgess Shale

Burgess Shale

The 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, writes author Mark Strand

Ceasar Chavez

Chavez’s Jacket

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

Sandra Day O'Connor

Justice O'Connor's Robe

The Supreme Court icon breaks down the tradition

Abraham Lincoln top hat

Lincoln’s Top Hat

Does the hat that links us to his final hours define the president? Or does the president define the hat?

predator drone

Predator Drone

Mark Bowden investigates how the unmanned, remote-controlled aircraft altered the battlefield forever

clovis points

Clovis Points

Beautifully crafted blades point to the continent’s earliest communities

singer sewing machine, Martha Stewart

Singer Sewing Machine

The master of home entertaining takes a look at one of the most game-changing inventions of the 19th century

Eniac computers

Eniac Computer

ration ticket

Ration Ticket

This ration ticket couldn’t come close to replacing the traditions of the Plains tribes

Aids quilt

AIDS Quilt

The Daily Dish recalls his first experience seeing the quilt

John Deere plow

John Deere Plow

His plow turned the Midwestern mud into the nation’s breadbasket

Negro league baseball

Negro League Baseball

Sportswriter Frank Deford looks back at the games that opened the national pastime to African-Americans



Writer Sloane Crosley asks if the doll really represents such a menace to society

Richard Petty car

Richard Petty's Stock Car

There’s a good reason why his stock car is in the collections of the American History Museum

Spirit of St. Louis

Spirit of St. Louis

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


Pocahontas Engraving

Historian Tony Horwitz tries to separate the truth from the myths that have been built up about the Jamestown “princess”


Giant Panda

There’s a reason why millions adore these furry exemplars of China’s “soft power”

Alabama church bombing

Stained Glass Shards

These stained glass shards recall the tragic day that saw four girls killed in Alabama

birth control

The Pill

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