American History Museum

Pencil these shows in, but keep your eraser handy. With every hope that Covid-restrictions will soon give way to happier times ahead, the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C. and New York City are planning a bright year of grand new showings. 

Twenty-Two Smithsonian Shows to See in 2022

Falcon hunting, Watergate, a Kusama mirror room and the new Latino Gallery await

Sidney Poitier, pictured here in 2006 at the Cannes Film Festival, died Friday, January 7. He was 94. 

How Sidney Poitier Rewrote the Script for Black Actors in Hollywood

Smithsonian curators reflect on the legacy of the late Poitier, who starred in 'In the Heat of the Night' and 'Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner'

The U.S. Capitol building was fenced off on January 7.

History of Now

Archiving the January 6 Insurrection for History

On the one-year anniversary of the attack on the Capitol, the National Museum of American History continues to collect related artifacts

Ben Franklin by Joseph-Siffred Duplessis, ca 1785

Ben Franklin Lives in Your Smartphone

The 18th-century inventor discovered concepts that impact modern technology

Actress and comedian Betty White, pictured here in 2015, died last week at the age of 99.

Women Who Shaped History

How Betty White Broke Barriers for Women in Television

A Smithsonian curator reflects on the legacy of the beloved “Golden Girls” actress

The 1946 film It's a Wonderful Life stars James Stewart as down-on-his-luck George Bailey and Donna Reed as his wife, Mary.

What 'It's a Wonderful Life' Teaches Us About American History

The Christmas classic, released 75 years ago, conveys many messages beyond having faith in one another

The author of a penetrating new book, documenting the multi-layered complexities of the Miss America pageant (above: 1921, Atlantic City), writes about the contest's ongoing battle to remain relevant over its century of historic highs and lows.

How the Swimsuit Showdown Shaped the Miss America Contest

A new behind-the-scenes book, “There She Was,” and a Smithsonian collecting initiative celebrate the pageant’s centennial

Elon Musk, after securing a $2.9 billion NASA contract for SpaceX, recently hosted an episode of “Saturday Night Live.”

The Return of America's Celebrity Inventor

In a new book, Smithsonian historian Eric S. Hintz traces the rise and fall, and rise again, of the maverick inventor

Dozens of Smithsonian Institution professionals share their favorite reads from this year.

The Best Books of 2021

Smithsonian Scholars Pick Their Favorite Books of 2021

The writings of many fine authors support the research and ambitious undertakings of an Institution rising to the challenges ahead

This 1925 painting depicts an idealized version of an early Thanksgiving celebration in Plymouth.

How to Tell the Thanksgiving Story on Its 400th Anniversary

Scholars are unraveling the myths surrounding the 1621 feast, which found the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag cementing a newly established alliance

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What the History of 'Spirit Photography' Portends for the Future of Deepfake Videos

Today’s video hoaxes can be downright ugly. But image-makers have been fooling viewers from the beginning

In October, the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History displayed this vandalized, bullet-ridden marker—one of three placed at the Mississippi site where, in 1955, police found the body of 14-year-old Emmett Till.

Why Museums Are Primed to Address Racism, Inequality in the U.S.

Smithsonian leaders discuss how the Institution can be a powerful place for investigating and addressing society’s most difficult issues

Chinese railroad workers near the Secret Town Trestle in Placer County, California, around 1869

Cool Finds

Artifacts Used by Chinese Transcontinental Railroad Workers Found in Utah

Researchers discovered the remains of a mid-19th century house, a centuries-old Chinese coin and other traces of the short-lived town of Terrace

Detail of Ronald N. Sherr's General Colin Powell, 2012, oil on canvas

History of Now

Colin Powell, First Black Secretary of State, Dies of Covid-19 at 84

The decorated general broke racial barriers in the U.S. military but attracted criticism for his part in paving the way for the Iraq War

In October 1971, Disney World "cast members" pose with celebrity Mickey Mouse at one of the theme park's grand opening ceremonies. 

In the Magic Kingdom, History Was a Lesson Filled With Reassurance

Fifty years ago, Disney World's celebrated opening promised joy and inspiration to all; today the theme park is reckoning with its white middle-class past

An aerial view of the "In America: Remember" installation on the National Mall, which commemorates the nearly 700,000 Americans who've lost their lives to Covid-19.

Covid-19

In D.C., 695,000 Flags—and Counting—Memorialize the Americans Who Have Died of Covid-19

Created by artist Suzanne Brennan Firstenberg, the installation covers the National Mall in white pennants featuring handwritten dedications to the dead

Over the span of two years, Washington visited all 13 original states (14 if you count Maine, which was then part of Massachusetts), traveling on horseback and by carriage along rutted dirt roads and over rising rivers.

When George Washington Took a Road Trip to Unify the U.S.

Nathaniel Philbrick’s new book follows the first president on his 1789 journey across America

The stock certificate pieced back together and encased in mylar

Smithsonian Voices

How Conservators Preserved This Stock Certificate Destroyed on 9/11

The certificate arrived in the Smithsonian's Paper Conservation Lab as a pile of paper bits stored in an envelope

Flight 93 fuselage and call button, now housed in the collections of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

September 11

These Free Online Resources Tell the Story of 9/11 and Its Aftermath

Browse 12 archives, databases and portals that help users deepen their understanding of the attacks

This damaged floor marker, labeled “Stairwell C, Floor 102,” was recovered from the debris of the World Trade Center and is now housed in the National Museum of American History's National September 11 Collection.

September 11

Commemorate 9/11 With Free Virtual Programs, Resources From the Smithsonian

Here's how the American History Museum, the National Postal Museum and more are reflecting on the tragedy

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