American History

Some say the dish can be traced back to logging camps at the beginning of the 20th century, but others cite chili and cinnamon rolls as a once-essential part of their school lunch programs. 

What's Up With the Pairing of Chili and Cinnamon Rolls?

Why kids across the western United States came to find the unlikely combination in their school lunches

The Cecil Williams South Carolina Civil Rights Museum preserves photographs and artifacts from the civil rights movement.

New Funding Will Help Highlight Five Black History Sites in the American South

The Southern Poverty Law Center’s $50,000 grants will support civil rights museums, a monument to victims of an industrial disaster and other organizations

Maya Angelou, pictured here in 2008, became the first Black woman to feature on a U.S. quarter this week. The celebrated poet and author died in 2014. 

Women Who Shaped History

Newly Minted Maya Angelou Quarters Enter Circulation and Make History

Here’s how to find one of the new U.S. quarters—the first to feature a Black woman

The Donner Summit tunnels and 13 others in the Sierra Nevada built by Chinese railroad workers remain a testament to ingenuity and industry. 

The Quest to Protect California's Transcontinental Railroad Tunnels

Built by Chinese immigrants in the 1860s, the caverns cutting through Donner Summit helped unite the country

Lawrence Brooks, 110, pictured at a previous birthday celebration at the National World War II Museum

Lawrence Brooks, the United States' Oldest Living WWII Veteran, Dies at 112

Brooks was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1940, when he was in his early 30s

Lieutenant Colonel Almon F. Rockwell (center) was a longtime friend of President James A. Garfield (right). He was also one of roughly 25 people present at Abraham Lincoln's (left) deathbed.

This Man Was the Only Eyewitness to the Deaths of Both Lincoln and Garfield

Almon F. Rockwell's newly resurfaced journals, excerpted exclusively here, offer an incisive account of the assassinated presidents' final moments

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

Richmond took down its statue of Robert E. Lee in September 2021.

Richmond's Robert E. Lee Statue Is Headed to a Black History Museum

Officials have tentatively agreed to transfer ownership of removed Confederate monuments to a pair of museums in the Virginia city

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

A 1930s couple rings in the new year with party blowers and streamers. New Year's Eve celebrations only began incorporating countdowns decades later, with the first crowd countdown in Times Square taking place in 1979.

Why Do We Count Down to the New Year?

A historian traces the tradition's links to space travel, the Doomsday Clock and Alfred Hitchcock

An intercontinental ballistic missile takes flight from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in 2002. In 1962, the United States would confront the Soviet Union on its missile stockpiles in Cuba, edging the two nations to the brink of nuclear war.

History of Now

'Do You Hear What I Hear?' Conjures Images of Peace Everywhere—and Nuclear Annihilation

Composed at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis, the classic Christmas song contains another message—one of unity

Virignia Governor Ralph Northam (center) looks on as conservators Kate Ridgway (left) and Sue Donovon (right) remove the time capsule's contents.

Cool Finds

A Time Capsule Found Beneath Richmond’s Robert E. Lee Monument Confounds Historians

An almanac, a silver coin and a cloth envelope were among the intriguing artifacts found in the box

The Moores' younger daughter, Evangeline, donated this locket and other personal artifacts to the Smithsonian in 2013.

This Locket Memorializes a Black Activist Couple Murdered in a Christmas 1951 Bombing

Harry T. and Harriette V. Moore attracted the KKK's ire for their tireless promotion of civil rights in the Jim Crow South

A 1918 photo of a Christmas tree for horses in Washington, D.C.

When Humane Societies Threw Christmas Parties for Horses

Held across the U.S. in the early 20th century, the events sought to raise awareness for poor living conditions and offer the animals a holiday respite

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

Artifacts found in an attic in a Boston home consisted of items such as letters, tools and a trade sign, all believed to have been owned by the family of Paul Revere.

Cool Finds

Sold: Paul Revere Family Artifacts Found in a Boston-Area Attic

A trade sign bearing the name of the patriot’s son, along with letters and personal items owned by his grandchildren, sold at auction for $20,000

Emmett Till and his mother Mamie Till-Mobley, ca. 1953-1955

Race in America

Justice Department Officially Closes Emmett Till Investigation Without Bringing Justice

Authorities will not press charges after reviewing a second piece of key testimony from the 1955 murder

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

Aside from photography, James Van Der Zee was also a gifted musician who played both the piano and violin.

The Met Acquires Archive of Work by Harlem Renaissance Photographer James Van Der Zee

Working with the Studio Museum of Harlem, the museum is preserving the photographer’s images of 20th-century Black life

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