Civil War

Drummer boy John Clem (left) and Robert Henry Hendershot, who claimed to be the celebrated "drummer boy of Rappahannock" (right)

Why the Union Army Had So Many Boy Soldiers

A new book unearths the startling numbers behind underage enlistment during the Civil War

The statue Sons of St. Augustine imagines a warm encounter between Alexander Darnes, a physician, and Edmund Kirby Smith, the Confederate general who had enslaved him.

The Doctor and the Confederate

A historian’s journey into the relationship between Alexander Darnes and Edmund Kirby Smith starts with a surprising eulogy

The Smithsonian Castle Building, in a colorized photograph taken by Alexander Gardner, was severely damaged in a January 1865 fire.

A Look Back at the First Time the Smithsonian Castle Closed for Renovations

In February, the building will shutter for five years for much-needed improvements

A photo of Henrietta Lacks in the living room of her grandson, Ron Lacks

Henrietta Lacks' Virginia Hometown Will Build Statue in Her Honor, Replacing Robert E. Lee Monument

Lacks' unique cancer cells were taken without consent and used for medical breakthroughs

Workers removing the statue of Ambrose P. Hill from its pedestal in Richmond, Virginia, on December 12

Richmond Removes Its Last City-Owned Confederate Monument

The statue of Ambrose P. Hill had stood at a busy intersection since 1892

Felton advocated lynching Black men accused of raping white women—“a thousand times a week if necessary,” as she said in an infamous 1897 speech.

The Nation's First Woman Senator Was a Virulent White Supremacist

In 1922, Rebecca Latimer Felton, a Georgia women's rights activist and lynching proponent, temporarily filled a dead man's Senate seat

In the more than 100 years since his death, William Still has been marginalized, sometimes even forgotten, by histories of the movements to which he contributed so much.

The Forgotten Father of the Underground Railroad

The author of a book about William Still unearths new details about the leading Black abolitionist—and reflects on his lost legacy

In the not-so-distant past, the Russian and American governments talked up the shared crucibles of their two mid-19th century leaders as a way of improving diplomatic relations.

Before Lincoln Issued the Emancipation Proclamation, This Russian Czar Freed 20 Million Serfs

The parallels between the U.S. president and Alexander II, both of whom fought to end servitude in their nations, are striking

Designer Samantha Black created three special-edition outfits for Claudie.

New American Girl Doll Celebrates Black Joy During the Harlem Renaissance

Nine-year-old Claudie Wells' story unfolds in 1920s New York

By March 1862, Judith Henry's Virginia home had been reduced to rubble.

Untold Stories of American History

The Civil War's First Civilian Casualty Was an Elderly Widow From Virginia

Union gunfire killed 85-year-old Judith Carter Henry on July 21, 1861—the day of the First Battle of Bull Run

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Untold Stories of American History

The Southbound Underground Railroad Brought Thousands of Enslaved Americans to Mexico

Rather than head north, many of those in bondage made a different treacherous journey in a bold quest for freedom that historians are now unearthing

Members of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps pose on Minerva Terrace at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park in 1896.

Untold Stories of American History

The Black Buffalo Soldiers Who Biked Across the American West

In 1897, the 25th Infantry Regiment Bicycle Corps embarked on a 1,900-mile journey from Montana to Missouri

According to author Christopher A. Thomas, the dedication "was a microcosm of the strained race relations of its day, marked by the rhetoric of good intentions and the behavior of bigotry."

A Century Ago, the Lincoln Memorial's Dedication Underscored the Nation's Racial Divide

Seating was segregated, and the ceremony's only Black speaker was forced to drastically revise his speech to avoid spreading "propaganda"

Last September, an installation of almost 700,000 white flags on the National Mall paid tribute to the Americans who have died of Covid-19.

Covid-19

The Civil War Drastically Reshaped How Americans Deal With Death. Will the Pandemic?

Around 750,000 people died during the conflict—2.5 percent of the country's population at the time

The only available photograph of America Newton, a formerly enslaved woman who ran a laundry business out of her cabin in Julian, California, dates to around 1910.

The Trailblazing Black Entrepreneurs Who Shaped a 19th-Century California Boomtown

Though founded by Confederates, Julian became a place of opportunity for people of color—and a model for what the U.S. could look like after the Civil War

A 19th-century illustration of two yellow fever victims in New Orleans

Race in America

How Yellow Fever Intensified Racial Inequality in 19th-Century New Orleans

A new book explores how immunity to the disease created opportunities for white, but not Black, people

The Commemorative at St. Mary's College of Maryland honors the enslaved people who once lived and worked there.

Good News

National Park Service Adds 16 New Underground Railroad Sites to Commemorative Network

The recognitions honor the resistance and bravery of freedom seekers and their allies who risked their lives to resist slavery

Virginia Union University is one of the rare HBCUs in America that can tie its origins to a Black woman: Mary Lumpkin.

Women Who Shaped History

The Enslaved Woman Who Liberated a Slave Jail and Transformed It Into an HBCU

Forced to bear her enslaver's children, Mary Lumpkin later forged her own path to freedom

Kate Warne was the Pinkerton National Detective Agency's first woman operative. She died in 1868 at age 34 or 35.

Women Who Shaped History

How Kate Warne, America's First Woman Detective, Foiled a Plot to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln

In February 1861, the Pinkerton agent, posing as the disguised president-elect's sister and caregiver, safely escorted him to Baltimore

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, Why Born Enslaved!, 1873

A Bold New Show at the Met Explores A Single Sculpture

The exhibition probes the paradoxes of Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux's "Why Born Enslaved!," the most famous depiction of a Black woman in 19th-century art

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