Historical Documents

The entrance to the CIA Museum in Langley, Virginia

See Inside the Rarely Seen and Newly Reimagined CIA Museum

Off-limits to all but a few in-person visitors, the museum is starting to welcome the public, online at least

Scientists are testing this 15th-century letter for chemical traces of its author, Vlad Dracula, Transylvanian ruler and inspiration for the fictional count.

Document Detectives Use Smudges and Bloodstains to Investigate the Past

Proteins left behind on historic artifacts are revealing centuries-old secrets

A different page from the Beauvais Missal, a manuscript created in the late 13th century

Cool Finds

Man Pays $75 for Medieval Text That Could Be Worth $10,000

He spotted the page from the 13th-century Beauvais Missal at an estate sale in Maine

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The Remarkable Effort to Locate America's Lost Patents

An 1836 blaze destroyed thousands of records that catalogued the young nation's ingenuity, but recent discoveries indicate that originals may still exist

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How One Historian Located Liberia’s Elusive Founding Document

The piece of paper went missing for nearly 200 years, leaving some scholars to question whether it even existed

Medieval manuscripts featuring stories about King Arthur and Camelot

Art Meets Science

How Much Medieval Literature Has Been Lost Over the Centuries?

A new analysis suggests that just 9 percent of manuscripts produced in Europe during the Middle Ages survive today

The Bonhams sale features more than 1,000 books from the late Supreme Court justice's personal library.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Personal Library Is Up for Auction

The late Supreme Court justice's collection includes novels, law books, notes and other documents dating back to her youth

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

The rare document is one of only two surviving first printings of the Constitution held by private collectors.

Rare First Printing of the U.S. Constitution Is the Most Expensive Text Ever Sold at Auction

A collective of cryptocurrency owners attempted to buy the document but was outbid by Citadel CEO Kenneth Griffin, who shelled out $43.2 million

Survivors received “fever passes” that certified their immunity, allowing them increased freedom of movement at a time when a substantial portion of the population was being held under strict quarantine.

Covid-19

In 19th-Century Gibraltar, Survivors of a Deadly Virus Used 'Fever Passes' to Prove Their Immunity

Should historic health officials' response to yellow fever outbreaks on the Iberian Peninsula serve as a model for modern pandemic management strategies?

The cache of newly returned items includes 15 handwritten papers and a small collection of looted antiquities.

Colonial-Era Papers Stolen From Mexico's National Archive Return Home

The documents, many of which are directly linked to conquistador Hernán Cortés, were smuggled out of the country and auctioned in the U.S.

Remembering Tulsa

Remembering Tulsa

A century ago, a murderous mob attacked the most prosperous Black community in the nation. This is the story of the Tulsa Race Massacre

Prior to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the thriving neighborhood of Greenwood, Oklahoma (seen here in 1920), was nicknamed "Black Wall Street."

Remembering Tulsa

How the Public Helped Historians Better Understand What Happened at Tulsa

A century after the massacre of a prosperous Black community, Smithsonian volunteers transcribed nearly 500 pages of vital records in less than 24 hours

The researchers virtually opened the letters with an advanced X-ray machine. They then used computers to analyze the folds and create a readable, digital model of the unfolded message.

Art Meets Science

How Researchers Are Reading Centuries-Old Letters Without Opening Them

A new technique enables scholars to unlock the secrets of long-sealed missives

An 1843 aquatint by Jean-Pierre-Marie Jazet, after a painting by Carl von Steuben, depicts Napoleon Bonaparte in his final moments.

Rare Doctor's Note Offers Glimpse Into Napoleon's Agonized Final Years

The 1818 missive, which describes the French statesman's failing health, recently sold at auction for $2,000

Submissions will be included in an online exhibition, “Reclamation: Recipes, Remedies, and Ritual,” set to open in January 2021.

Your Cherished Family Recipes Could Be Featured in a Museum Exhibition

The National Museum of Women in the Arts is asking the public to share recipes that document unique family histories

The Sistine Hall, originally constructed as part of the Vatican Library

Vatican Library Enlists Artificial Intelligence to Protect Its Digitized Treasures

The archive employs A.I. modeled on the human immune system to guard offerings including a rare manuscript of the "Aeneid"

Ratified Indian Treaty 37: Eel River, Wyandot,Piankashaw, Kaskaskia, and Kickapoo—Vincennes, Indiana Territory, August 7, 1803

Hundreds of Native American Treaties Digitized for the First Time

The National Archives has scanned more than 300 agreements between the United States and Indigenous tribes

New fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls with writing visible.

Text Found on Supposedly Blank Dead Sea Scroll Fragments

Invisible to the naked eye, researchers revealed lines of ancient script in new photographs

A broadsheet campaigned to save the house once owned by John Hancock.

How Historic Preservation Shaped the Early United States

A new book details how the young nation regarded its recent and more ancient pasts

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