History of Now

Helen Viola Jackson, who wed U.S. Army veteran James Bolin in 1936, died on December 16 at age 101.

The Last Surviving Widow of a Civil War Veteran Dies at 101

Helen Viola Jackson married James Bolin in 1936, when she was 17 and he was 93

“He is setting a fine example for the youth of the country,” said a public health official after the King of Rock 'n' Roll received a vaccine on the set of “The Ed Sullivan Show” in October 1956.

How Elvis Helped America Eliminate Polio

The rock star's much-publicized vaccination inspired reluctant U.S. teens to get inoculated

The statue of Hannah Dunston has been vandalized with red paint in recent months

Why Just 'Adding Context' to Controversial Monuments May Not Change Minds

Research shows that visitors often ignore information that conflicts with what they already believe about history

Anti-war Democrats objected to mail-in voting, citing widespread fears of voter fraud, as well as intimidation on the part of the pro-Republican military.

The Debate Over Mail-In Voting Dates Back to the Civil War

In 1864, Democrats and Republicans clashed over legislation allowing soldiers to cast their ballots from the front

The Netflix film features Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Bobby Seale and Mark Rylance as lawyer William Kunstler.

The True Story of 'The Trial of the Chicago 7'

Aaron Sorkin's newest movie dramatizes the clash between protestors on the left and a federal government driven to making an example of them

Old Supreme Court Chamber in the U.S. Capitol

The History of 'Stolen' Supreme Court Seats

As the Trump administration seeks to fill a vacancy on the Court, a look back at the forgotten mid-19th century battles over the judiciary

Destruction by fire of Pennsylvania Hall, the new building of the Abolition Society, on the night of the May 17, 1838

How the Myth of a Liberal North Erases a Long History of White Violence

Anti-black racism has terrorized African Americans throughout the nation's history, regardless of where in the country they lived

Thousands of Black Lives Matter protesters congregate at Los Angeles' Hollywood and Highland intersection on June 7, 2020.

How Urban Design Can Make or Break a Protest

Cities' geography can aid, underscore or discourage a movement's success

A man passes by graffiti on the side of the slave quarters of Decatur House in Washington, D.C.

What the Protesters Tagging Historic Sites Get Right About the Past

Places of memory up and down the East Coast also witnessed acts of resistance and oppression

Protestors march through the streets of D.C. during demonstrations over the death of George Floyd, who died in police custody.

158 Resources for Understanding Systemic Racism in America

These articles, videos, podcasts and websites from the Smithsonian chronicle the history of anti-black violence and inequality in the United States

Anti-war demonstrators at Kent State University run as National Guardsmen fire tear gas and bullets into the crowd.

How 13 Seconds Changed Kent State University Forever

The institution took decades to come to grips with the trauma of the killing of four students 50 years ago

The first physician to definitively distinguish typhus and typhoid was American doctor William Wood Gerhard.

What an 1836 Typhus Outbreak Taught the Medical World About Epidemics

An American doctor operating out of Philadelphia made clinical observations that where patients lived, not how they lived, was at the root of the problem

A protestor on Maui

Shutting Down Hawai‘i: A Historical Perspective on Epidemics in the Islands

A museum director looks to the past to explain why 'Aloha' is as necessary as ever

Two of Antonio Gentile's original Mr. Peanut sketches from 1916.

Mr. Peanut Was the Creation of an Italian-American Schoolboy

One of the most iconic food brands was born in the imagination of a teenager, Antonio Gentile. Curator Kathleen Franz introduces the story

Engraved portrait of Melvil Dewey.

Melvil Dewey’s Name Stripped From Top Library Award

An American Library Association resolution points to Dewey's history of discriminatory and predatory behavior

Nostalgia in a can

You Can Buy a Tin of Air to Commemorate the End of the Heisei Era

The nostalgic keepsake goes up for sale in advance of Emperor Akihito's abdication

Observers in the galleries of a legislative hearing about a marijuana bill in May 1973

Why the 1970s Effort to Decriminalize Marijuana Failed

The explosion of kid-friendly paraphernalia led the federal government to crack down on pot

A German artillery shell hits the cathedral

The Debate Over Rebuilding That Ensued When a Beloved French Cathedral Was Shelled During WWI

After the Notre-Dame de Reims sustained heavy damage, it took years for the country to decide how to repair the destruction

In 1836, both camps in the so-called Bank War—supporters of U.S. president Andrew Jackson, and supporters of the Second Bank of the United States president Nicholas Biddle—lobbed accusations of conspiracy to sway Americans to their sides.

Conspiracy Theories Abounded in 19th-Century American Politics

Rumors of secret alliances, bank deals, and double-crossings were rampant in early American elections

American orator, editor, author, abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) edits a journal at his desk, late 1870s.

‘The North Star’ Amplified Black Voices. How a 2019 Reboot of Frederick Douglass’ Paper Hopes to Do the Same

A new outfit sees inspiration from the 19th-century publication that pursued the cause of fighting injustice everywhere

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