Slavery

Two unidentified Gullah Geechee women photographed by Lorenzo Dow Turner in the early 1930s

How the Memory of a Song Reunited Two Women Separated by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

In 1990, scholars found a Sierra Leonean woman who remembered a nearly identical version of a tune passed down by a Georgia woman’s enslaved ancestors

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How to Separate Fact From Myth in the Extraordinary Story of Sojourner Truth

Two historians tell us why the pioneering 19th-century feminist, suffragist and abolitionist’s legacy has so frequently been misrepresented

A white Baptist woman named Harriet M. Buss taught Civil War hero Robert Smalls (pictured) how to read and write.

What a Teacher's Letters Reveal About Robert Smalls, Who Stole a Confederate Ship to Secure His Freedom From Slavery

Harriet M. Buss' missives home detail the future congressman's candid views on race and the complicity of Confederate women

A close-up of Sojourner Truth’s face in statue created by Woodrow Nash. An 1883 New York Times obituary described Truth’s “tall, masculine-looking figure” and “deep, guttural, powerful voice.”

The Remarkable Untold Story of Sojourner Truth

Feminist. Preacher. Abolitionist. Civil rights pioneer. Now the full story of the American icon's life and faith is finally coming to light

In 18th-century Venice, Carnival masks created a temporary feeling of equality between the ruling class and the lower classes.

A Brief History of How Carnival Is Celebrated Around the World

Here’s how Venice, Rio de Janeiro, Trinidad and Tobago, New Orleans, and Quebec City mark the pre-Lenten season

The First Supper (Galaxy Black), Tavares Strachan, 2023

Monumental Sculpture Reimagines 'The Last Supper' With Black Historical Figures

Tavares Strachan's "The First Supper" took four years to sculpt and is now on display at an exhibition in London

Abraham Lincoln’s third annual message to Congress spurred prompt and consequential action on what became the first piece of proactive federal legislation to encourage, rather than discourage, immigration to the U.S.

Abraham Lincoln's Oft-Overlooked Campaign to Promote Immigration to the U.S.

A few weeks after the president delivered the Gettysburg Address, he called on Congress to welcome immigrants as a "source of national wealth and strength"

A late-19th-century photograph of John Mason's mansion on Analostan Island, now called Theodore Roosevelt Island

This Peaceful Nature Sanctuary in Washington, D.C. Sits on the Ruins of a Plantation

Before Theodore Roosevelt Island was transformed into a tribute to the nation's "conservation president," a prominent Virginia family relied on enslaved laborers to build and tend to its summer home there

Genealogy researchers use military records, birth and death certificates, marriage licenses, wills, legal and court documents, and census records to help piece together the past.

How the Smithsonian Is Helping Black Americans Trace Their Roots

Free sessions hosted by the National Museum of African American History and Culture offer visitors advice on researching their genealogy

This May brings the Kunstsilo Nordic Art Museum to the southern Norwegian city of Kristiansand.

The Most Anticipated Museum Openings of 2024

Scheduled to launch this year are new institutions dedicated to astronomy, Nintendo and women artists

An illustration of Lucayan divers spearfishing for parrotfish, turtles and conch

How Archaeologists Are Unearthing the Secrets of the Bahamas' First Inhabitants

Spanish colonizers enslaved the Lucayans, putting an end to their lineage by 1530

Born in Cameroon, Ada Anagho Brown moved to the United States as a child and now plans trips to Central and West African countries based on her clients’ DNA.

A Journey to Discover an African Homeland

New generations of Black Americans are taking intimate tours that connect them with the lands and cultures their ancestors were forced to leave behind

Sunlight illuminates a plaque in Charleston, South Carolina, honoring 36 likely enslaved people—ranging in age from 3 to over 50—whose remains were discovered in 2013.

A New Project Uses Isotopes to Pinpoint the Birthplaces of the Enslaved

In South Carolina, members of the local Black community are teaming up with scientists to produce a novel study of the trans-Atlantic slave trade

Safety fencing at Arlington National Cemetery rings the Confederate memorial.

Federal Judge Allows Removal of Confederate Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery

The Defense Department had mandated that the monument be dismantled by January 1, 2024

Jared Miller poses as his ancestor Richard Oliver, a soldier in the 20th Colored Infantry, at Penumbra Tintype Portrait Studio in New York City.

Descendants of Black Civil War Heroes Wear Their Heritage With Pride

A bold new photographic project asks modern-day Americans to recreate portraits of their 19th-century ancestors in painstakingly accurate fashion

At this ancient bakery, enslaved individuals and donkeys worked under bleak conditions to grind grain.

Archaeologists Discover Brutal 'Bakery-Prison' at Pompeii

Enslaved workers toiled for hours in a dark, cramped space to grind grain for bread

At the beginning of the Civil War, Ulysses S. Grant wasn’t an abolitionist, admitting that his beliefs were “not even what could be called antislavery.” By August 1863, he had changed his mind, writing, “Slavery is already dead and cannot be resurrected.”

Unraveling Ulysses S. Grant's Complex Relationship With Slavery

The Union general directly benefited from the brutal institution before and during the Civil War

The premier lady of sex work in Victorian St. Louis built an empire estimated to be worth at least $100,000—the equivalent of about $3.7 million today.

The Formerly Enslaved Black Bordello Queen Who Built a Notorious Business Empire

In 19th-century St. Louis, Madam Priscilla Henry earned a life-changing fortune—and scores of enemies vying for her crown

Smithsonian's picks for the best history books of 2023 include King: A Life, The Sisterhood and The Wager.

The Ten Best History Books of 2023

Our favorite titles of the year resurrect forgotten histories and illuminate how the United States ended up where it is today

Foundry workers disassembled Charlottesville's Robert E. Lee statue before melting it down.

Foundry Workers Melt Down Charlottesville's Divisive Robert E. Lee Statue

Eventually, an artist will be chosen to transform the bronze bars into a public art installation

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