Political Leaders

Elizabeth remained staunchly tight-lipped, rarely commenting publicly on current events.

Elizabeth II Was an Enduring Emblem of the Waning British Empire

The British queen died on Thursday at age 96

Mikhail Gorbachev died on August 30, 2022, at age 91.

The Contradictory Legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev

The Soviet leader, who died on August 30 at age 91, attempted to enact "revolution from above"

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

Communist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg speaking at a conference in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1907

History of Now

The 20th-Century History of Anti-Semitic Attacks on Jewish Politicians

Russian rhetoric against Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy echoes the language directed toward Jewish leaders in post-WWI Europe

In 1951, mobster Frank Costello (seated, center) testified in front of the Kefauver Committee during a televised congressional hearing on organized crime that captivated the country.

History of Now

A Brief History of Televised Congressional Hearings

From a 1951 investigation into organized crime to the Watergate scandal, the ongoing January 6 hearings are part of a lengthy political tradition

After his shooting, a hospitalized Wallace holds up a newspaper touting his victories in the Maryland and Michigan Democratic presidential primaries.

How a Failed Assassination Attempt Pushed George Wallace to Reconsider His Segregationist Views

Fifty years ago, a fame-seeker shot the polarizing politician five times, paralyzing him from the waist down

At the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, the story of the Watergate whistleblower Martha Mitchell (detail, oil on canvas, Jan De Ruth, 1970) from Pine Bluff, Arkansas—who pundits dubbed the "Mouth of the South"—is revisited in a new exhibition, "Watergate: Portraiture and Intrigue."

Martha Mitchell Was the Brash 'Mouth of the South' That Roared

A portrait reveals the dignity behind the maligned woman who stepped up to tell the truth

“The First Lady” dramatizes the challenges faced by three first wives (L to R): Betty Ford (portrayed by Michelle Pfeiffer), Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson) and Michelle Obama (Viola Davis).

Based on a True Story

The True History Behind Showtime's 'The First Lady'

The new series dramatizes the White House years of Eleanor Roosevelt, Betty Ford and Michelle Obama

Joseph Mikulec, the “Globe-Trotter” whose toes touched six continents, collected the signatures of such luminaries as Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, Edward VIII, Mary Pickford and Teddy Roosevelt.

The Man Who Walked Around the World, Collecting the Autographs of the Rich and Famous

In the early 1900s, Joseph Mikulec traveled some 175,000 miles on foot, gathering 60,000 signatures in a leather-bound album that is now up for sale

A 1997 photo of Madeleine Albright, who died at age 84 on March 23, 2022

Madeleine Albright on Her Life in Pins

In 2010, the former secretary of state reflected on her famous collection of brooches and pins

A collage of Vladimir Putin placing his hand on Joseph Stalin's shoulder. Richard Cohen's new book Making History details the links between the two Russian leaders.

History of Now

Vladimir Putin's Rewriting of History Draws on a Long Tradition of Soviet Myth-Making

Much like Joseph Stalin, the Russian president has used propaganda, the media and government-sanctioned books to present an ahistorical narrative

"American Girl (above: the new doll Evette Peters) was seeking to emphasize to its young audience the importance of being able to envision themselves as part of the larger American story," writes the Smithsonian's Katrina Lashley. "And that vision requires more accessible histories, as well as role models in civic engagement."

Why This American Girl Doll Inspires Environmental Activism

The story of Evette Peters is bolstered by the Anacostia Community Museum's research into Washington D.C.'s local neighborhoods and urban waterways

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

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

Arnold Bertonneau of New Orleans, Robert Smalls of South Carolina and Anderson Ruffin Abbott of Toronto.

Meet the Black Men Who Changed Lincoln's Mind About Equal Rights

During the Civil War, these individuals convinced the president, altering the course of U.S. history

Franklin believed a turkey killed with electricity would be tastier than one dispatched by conventional means: decapitation.

When Benjamin Franklin Shocked Himself While Attempting to Electrocute a Turkey

The statesman was embarrassed by the mishap—no doubt a murder most fowl

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

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

Officers Paul Douglas (left) and Theodore Santos (right) stand with their newest Covid-19 K9 unit: a female black lab named Huntah (left) and a male golden lab-retriever mix, Duke (right).

Covid-19

Massachusetts Becomes First U.S. State to Enlist Covid-Sniffing Canines

Duke and Huntah are first dogs used by law enforcement to detect coronavirus cases

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