African American History

The National Museum of Natural History holds the majority of the human remains in the Smithsonian's collections.

The Smithsonian’s Human Remains Task Force Calls for New Repatriation Policies

The report provides recommendations regarding the return of human remains in the Institution’s collections

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How to Separate Fact From Myth in the Extraordinary Story of Sojourner Truth

Two historians tell us why the pioneering 19th-century feminist, suffragist and abolitionist’s legacy has so frequently been misrepresented

Lincoln Cemetery was established in 1867, two years after the Civil War ended.

Near the Site of the Gettysburg Address, These Black Civil War Veterans Remain Segregated, Even in Death

Denied burial alongside Union soldiers killed during the Battle of Gettysburg, the 30 or so men were instead buried in the all-Black Lincoln Cemetery

A white Baptist woman named Harriet M. Buss taught Civil War hero Robert Smalls (pictured) how to read and write.

What a Teacher's Letters Reveal About Robert Smalls, Who Stole a Confederate Ship to Secure His Freedom From Slavery

Harriet M. Buss' missives home detail the future congressman's candid views on race and the complicity of Confederate women

A close-up of Sojourner Truth’s face in statue created by Woodrow Nash. An 1883 New York Times obituary described Truth’s “tall, masculine-looking figure” and “deep, guttural, powerful voice.”

The Remarkable Untold Story of Sojourner Truth

Feminist. Preacher. Abolitionist. Civil rights pioneer. Now the full story of the American icon's life and faith is finally coming to light

A late-19th-century photograph of John Mason's mansion on Analostan Island, now called Theodore Roosevelt Island

This Peaceful Nature Sanctuary in Washington, D.C. Sits on the Ruins of a Plantation

Before Theodore Roosevelt Island was transformed into a tribute to the nation's "conservation president," a prominent Virginia family relied on enslaved laborers to build and tend to its summer home there

Genealogy researchers use military records, birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, wills, legal and court documents, and census records to help piece together the past.

How the Smithsonian Is Helping Black Americans Trace Their Roots

Free sessions hosted by the National Museum of African American History and Culture offer visitors advice on researching their genealogy

The 1898 silent film Something Good‑Negro Kiss is often described as the earliest known on-screen depiction of Black intimacy. 

See Long-Lost Artifacts From Early Black Cinema

Now open in Detroit, "Regeneration: Black Cinema, 1898–1971" showcases nearly 200 rare props, posters, photographs and more

The bronze statue of Jackie Robinson (left) was unveiled in Wichita in early 2021. In late January, perpetrators cut off the statue at the ankles, leaving only a pair of shoes (right).

Who Stole—and Burned—This Jackie Robinson Statue?

Donations poured in to help replace the bronze statue, which a youth baseball nonprofit unveiled in 2021

Callum Turner (left) as John "Bucky" Egan and Austin Butler (right) as Gale "Buck" Cleven in "Masters of the Air"

The Real History Behind 'Masters of the Air' and the 100th Bomb Group

The long-awaited follow-up to "Band of Brothers" and "The Pacific" centers on an American aerial group nicknamed the "Bloody Hundredth"

This May brings the Kunstsilo Nordic Art Museum to the southern Norwegian city of Kristiansand.

The Most Anticipated Museum Openings of 2024

Scheduled to launch this year are new institutions dedicated to astronomy, Nintendo and women artists

Verdun, Félix Edouard Vallotton, 1917

As Empires Clashed During World War I, a Global Media Industry Brought the Conflict's Horrors to the Public

An exhibition at LACMA traces the roots of modern media to the Great War, when propaganda mobilized the masses, and questions whether the brutal truths of the battlefield can ever really be communicated

Accents center on the pronunciation of words, while dialects encompass pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar. Here, the subjects of Grant Wood's American Gothic channel speaking styles popular in California and New York.

A Brief History of the United States' Accents and Dialects

Migration patterns, cultural ties, geographic regions and class differences all shape speaking patterns

A Tuskegee study subject gets his blood drawn in the mid-20th century.

What Newly Digitized Records Reveal About the Tuskegee Syphilis Study

The archival trove chronicles the extreme measures administrators took to ensure Black sharecroppers did not receive treatment for the venereal disease

For the year 2024, here are 24 things to look forward to at the Smithsonian.

Twenty-Four Smithsonian Shows to See in 2024

Election-year items, truth serum, Nigerian art and a pioneering self-driving car are on display this year

James W. Barr and Claudia E. Sharperson Barr (above, left and right), the maternal grandparents of senior editor Tracy Scott Forson. Diana Anagho (center), mother of heritage travel organizer Ada Anagho Brown. Brown as a child (far right). Harriet Tubman (below, left). Lewis Douglass (bottom), son of abolitionist orator Frederick Douglass.

What Genealogical Records Taught Me About My Family

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

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.

A Journey to Discover an African Homeland

New generations of Black Americans are taking intimate tours that connect them with the lands and cultures their ancestors were forced to leave behind

Sunlight illuminates a plaque in Charleston, South Carolina, honoring 36 likely enslaved people—ranging in age from 3 to over 50—whose remains were discovered in 2013.

A New Project Uses Isotopes to Pinpoint the Birthplaces of the Enslaved

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

Coltrane rehearses backstage before a show in London in November 1961. 

How John Coltrane's 'My Favorite Things' Changed American Music

Looking back at the moment when one of our greatest jazzmen raised the stakes for everyone who came after

In celebration of the upcoming new film The Color Purple, the Smithsonian Gardens, in partnership with the National Museum of African American History and Culture, hosted a webinar to unearth the nature-related themes in the story. (Above: Alice Walker by Anthony Barboza, 1989)

Unearth the Roots of Alice Walker’s ‘The Color Purple’

Gardeners discuss the oft-overlooked symbolism of nature that underlies the Pulitzer-prize winning novel

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