National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History Home of the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired the national anthem. The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history.
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As a public health precaution due to COVID-19, all Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are temporarily closed. We are not announcing a reopening date at this time and will provide updates here and on our website.

Operating as usual

This Filathlitikos B.C., jersey belonged to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who played for the Greek team during the 2011-2012 se...
07/21/2021

This Filathlitikos B.C., jersey belonged to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who played for the Greek team during the 2011-2012 season, leading up to his draft by the Milwaukee Bucks in 2013.

Giannis Antetokounmpo and his four brothers were raised in Greece by their parents, Charles and Veronica, Nigerians who emigrated to the European country in 1993. Challenged by racism and xenophobia, Charles often struggled to find work, and the family lived in fear of deportation. The boys would help their family by selling goods such a handbags, watches and sunglasses on street corners. Giannis told Time “Because my parents were illegal, they couldn't trust anybody. They were always nervous. A neighbor could be like, 'These people are making too much noise, their children are making too much noise,' and the cops could knock at our door and ask for our papers, and that's it. It's that simple. So you're always a little closed.”

Despite the challenges of poverty, including the need to share the same pair of basketball shoes, Giannis and his older brother Thanasis, took up the sport of basketball. After being discovered at the age of 13, Giannis made great strides playing junior and professional basketball in Greece. By the age of 17, word had gotten out about the 6 ’11 youth with tantalizing athleticism and incredible dedication.

In 2013, the Milwaukee Bucks selected Giannis with the 15th overall pick in that year’s NBA draft. A two-time Most Valuable Player, and five-time All-Star, Giannis led the Bucks to the NBA championship this year. After falling behind two games early in the series, Giannis and the Bucks rallied to win four straight games, defeating the Phoenix Suns in game six to become the 2021 NBA champions, the first championship for the Milwaukee Bucks since 1971. Giannis’ dominant performance throughout the playoffs was recognized with him being named the NBA Finals MVP.

Despite incredible successes and international superstardom, the young athlete promises to remain grounded to his roots. "You can just never forget where you came from," Giannis told ESPN. “Just growing up and going through life and how tough life was for me and my family, I'm always going to stay humble.”

07/19/2021

Gymnast Dominique Dawes wore this leotard at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta as a member of the gold-medal-winning "Magnificent Seven" team. It's now in our National Museum of American History.

Famous for her back-to-back tumbling passes, Dawes also took home an individual bronze in the floor exercise, becoming the first African American woman to medal in her sport.

Dawes began her Olympic career at age 15 and was part of three medal-winning Olympic teams.

The 1996 Olympics marked a pivot point in women's sports, as girls raised under Title IX helped the U.S. bring home the most medals in what became known "The Summer of Women.” In 1972, the federal government added Title IX to the Civil Rights Act, barring discrimination in education based on s*x—which included athletics. #BecauseOfHerStory

Meet Cher Ami. A World War I homing pigeon, Cher Ami has been preserved within the Smithsonian's collections since the 1...
07/16/2021
He? She? Or just plain Cher Ami? Solving a century-old pigeon mystery

Meet Cher Ami. A World War I homing pigeon, Cher Ami has been preserved within the Smithsonian's collections since the 1920s—and may be the most famous pigeon in history. New research has finally solved a century-old mystery about the heroic bird's story.

Homing pigeons were a vital part of the U.S. war effort during World War I. As an English-bred pigeon (one of 600 gifted by the British to the American Expeditionary Forces), Cher Ami served with distinction in the U.S. Army Signal Corps—delivering 12 messages while flying over Verdun in 1918 before being severely injured during a final, successful flight. Wartime records noted that Cher Ami returned "on last occasion with leg shot away, message tube containing important document hanging by tendon." (Later chroniclers believed that Cher Ami was the pigeon whose message led to the rescue of the American "Lost Battalion." Though this aspect of Cher Ami's history has yet to be confirmed via documentary records, the story significantly added to the bird's fame).

After the war, Cher Ami was taken across the Atlantic. Despite medical care, the pigeon did not fully recover from its war injuries and died in 1919. Rather than bury the bird, officials chose to preserve Cher Ami by donating the remains of the heroic pigeon to the @Smithsonian, so the bird’s story could be told.

But one detail of Cher Ami's history was elusive. Since first going on display at @smithsonianaib in 1921, the pigeon's s*x has been a source of debate. Wartime records recorded Cher Ami as a female "hen." But the Smithsonian has always labeled Cher Ami as a male "c**k bird."

Fun fact: Smithsonian experts don't like it when records disagree. Fortunately, when your colleagues are world leaders in studying ancient DNA, analyzing samples of a century-old pigeon is a difficult task, but not a daunting one. Thanks to a collaboration between our curator and scientists from the @smithsonianzoo's Feather Identification Lab and @smithsoniannmnh's Center for Conservation Genomics, we now know have an answer to this century old mystery: the Smithsonian has conclusively identified Cher Ami as male.

Follow the link in our bio today to learn more about Cher Ami and genetic research that solved this mystery: https://s.si.edu/cher-ami

This summer marks the centennial of a bird—possibly the most famous pigeon in history—going on display at the Smithsonian. A representative of Columba livia domestica, this bird is known as simply Cher Ami. Since Cher Ami first went on display, the pigeon's s*x has remained a source of debate. T...

You may be a sports fan—but are you fan enough to create a charcoal portrait of your favorite player? Nicholas Mariani d...
07/15/2021

You may be a sports fan—but are you fan enough to create a charcoal portrait of your favorite player? Nicholas Mariani did.

As a 12-year-old baseball fan, Mariani found inspiration in Puerto Rican shortstop Francisco Lindor, his favorite player on the Cleveland Indians. While taking art classes held at Cleveland's Baseball Heritage Museum, Mariani spent weeks working on a portrait of Lindor. His work impressed his art instructor, parents—and even “Mr. Smile” himself.

After the art project ended, Mariani and his family decided to auction prints of the portrait to raise money in support of hurricane victims in Puerto Rico as well as a local children's hospital. Lindor signed the prints, too. Look below to see the shortstop (center) meeting Mariani (second from right) and his family in 2018.

You can explore how baseball fans express their love of the game in our new exhibition, Pleibol! In the Barrios and the Big Leagues / En los barrios y las grandes ligas: https://s.si.edu/3wvLseT

📷: Courtesy of the Mariani Family

¡Pleibol! received generous support from the Cordoba Corporation and Linda Alvarado, and federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

Elotes are a popular Mexican street food of grilled corn on the cob topped with Mexican crema, chile powder, cheese, and...
07/14/2021

Elotes are a popular Mexican street food of grilled corn on the cob topped with Mexican crema, chile powder, cheese, and other spices. In Latino communities, elotes are a popular baseball concession.

In 2018, Minor League Baseball (MiLB) launched a Latino outreach initiative called “Copa de la Diversión” or “Fun Cup.” During these games and throughout the season, teams take on a culturally relevant name that connects with the Latino cultures of their region. Thus, the Clinton LumberKings of Clinton, Iowa, became the Clinton Elotes, and the team’s baseball cap features an ear of grilled corn swinging a baseball bat! This story and many more food history-related ones are shared in the museum’s new exhibition, ¡Pleibol! In the Barrios and the Big Leagues / En los barrios y las grandes ligas

Celebrate the opening of the ¡Pleibol! exhibition by joining Dayanny de la Cruz, executive chef at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, for a virtual "Cooking Up History" on July 26 at 6:45 p.m. ET. During the program, she will prepare a meal that represents the culinary cultures and heritage of baseball-loving families in Latino communities. She will also share stories from the barrios and the Big Leagues.

Tickets available for purchase here: https://s.si.edu/3yi0iXI

📷: Clinton Elotes cap from Minor League Baseball’s Copa de la Diversión, or “Fun Cup”, 2019. Courtesy of Minor League Baseball.

Elotes are a popular Mexican street food of grilled corn on the cob topped with Mexican crema, chile powder, cheese, and other spices. In Latino communities, elotes are a popular baseball concession.

In 2018, Minor League Baseball (MiLB) launched a Latino outreach initiative called “Copa de la Diversión” or “Fun Cup.” During these games and throughout the season, teams take on a culturally relevant name that connects with the Latino cultures of their region. Thus, the Clinton LumberKings of Clinton, Iowa, became the Clinton Elotes, and the team’s baseball cap features an ear of grilled corn swinging a baseball bat! This story and many more food history-related ones are shared in the museum’s new exhibition, ¡Pleibol! In the Barrios and the Big Leagues / En los barrios y las grandes ligas

Celebrate the opening of the ¡Pleibol! exhibition by joining Dayanny de la Cruz, executive chef at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, Florida, for a virtual "Cooking Up History" on July 26 at 6:45 p.m. ET. During the program, she will prepare a meal that represents the culinary cultures and heritage of baseball-loving families in Latino communities. She will also share stories from the barrios and the Big Leagues.

Tickets available for purchase here: https://s.si.edu/3yi0iXI

📷: Clinton Elotes cap from Minor League Baseball’s Copa de la Diversión, or “Fun Cup”, 2019. Courtesy of Minor League Baseball.

In the 1950s, Los Angeles officials forced more than a thousand families to vacate their homes in three different workin...
07/13/2021

In the 1950s, Los Angeles officials forced more than a thousand families to vacate their homes in three different working-class Latino neighborhoods in the community of Chavez Ravine. Officials promised that the families' bulldozed residences would make room for public housing, but those plans were never realized. Instead, the seized land was sold to become a new baseball landmark—Dodger Stadium.

Today, the families that once called Chavez Ravine home call themselves Los Desterrados, The Uprooted. The Martinez family is one of them. Richard Martinez and his brothers would play baseball with the other neighborhood kids in Chavez Ravine. After leaving the neighborhood, Martinez kept playing baseball and lettered for Lincoln High School. Martinez's Letterman sweater is now part of our museum's collections.

Our new exhibition, ¡Pleibol!, traces the history of Chavez Ravine and explores how players, broadcasters, and fans have reclaimed Dodger Stadium as a Latino space. Learn more from @smithsonianmagazine: https://s.si.edu/3i2XaIt

📷: Courtesy of Security Pacific National Bank Photo Collection / Los Angeles Public Library

¡Pleibol! received generous support from the Cordoba Corporation and Linda Alvarado, and federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

When racism and discrimination barred Latinas/os from joining baseball leagues, they created their own teams. In the ear...
07/12/2021

When racism and discrimination barred Latinas/os from joining baseball leagues, they created their own teams. In the early 1900s in East Harlem, New York, primarily Puerto Rican, African American, and Dominican communities responded by creating their own game: stickball.

Since stickball used the streets of New York City as its field, all players needed to start a game was a stick and a rubber ball. (And friends brave enough to slide home on concrete, of course).

Spalding hi-bounce balls like the one above were sold at bodegas around East Harlem and The Bronx in the 1950s. They developed the nickname “Spaldeens”—stemming from how players pronounced the “Spalding” company name with a New York accent. (The nickname got so popular that Spalding trademarked it in 1988; the company now uses “Spaldeen” as the official name of these rubber balls that were commonly used in street games in the middle of the 1900s).

In the early 1950s, the balls were marketed as “tennis balls without the felt” and cost about a quarter. At first, they were made of the imperfect core remnants from Spalding’s tennis ball production process in Chicopee, Massachusetts. But after they exploded in popularity, Spalding began specialized production of the balls until 1979, when its production operation moved to Taiwan. And in 1999, back by popular demand, Spalding began selling Spaldeens again.

You can explore this Spalding ball and other stickball objects in 3D in our new exhibition, ¡Pleibol!: https://s.si.edu/3xzZ5er

Have you ever played stickball? Tell us about it below!

📷: Sliding home on concrete, East Harlem, 1950s. Courtesy of Stickball Hall of Fame

¡Pleibol! received generous support from the Cordoba Corporation and Linda Alvarado, and federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

07/09/2021
¡Pleibol! Virtual Exhibition Opening

Join us in a virtual opening celebration for our new exhibition ¡Pleibol! In the Barrios and the Big Leagues / En los barrios y las grandes ligas. Our curators will provide a special behind-the-scenes look at the exhibition's incredible stories and objects.

Chants and cheers are great, but sometimes—you gotta have more cowbell. Fans celebrate in a multitude of ways. One way i...
07/09/2021

Chants and cheers are great, but sometimes—you gotta have more cowbell.

Fans celebrate in a multitude of ways. One way is using musical instruments that symbolize shared cultural heritage with their favorite players. Walk-up songs, maracas, and Spanish chants in the stands are the rhapsody of baseball and leave a mark on how we hear the game. Today, drums, cowbells, maracas, and güiras can be found in stadiums across the country. Used originally in Caribbean musical genres (like merengue, bachata, bolero, son cubano, and salsa), these instruments’ celebratory sounds are now part of the shared culture of baseball.

More than 50 years old, this handmade cowbell was used by the Nuñez family at baseball games in Cuba, New York, and Florida to cheer on their favorite players. Today, it helps our experts tell the story of how fans have shaped the history of baseball, one of the themes of our new exhibition, ¡Pleibol! In the Barrios and the Big Leagues / En los barrios y las grandes ligas.

Join us online tonight, July 9, at 7pm ET for ¡Pleibol!'s opening celebration and get a behind-the-scenes look at the new exhibition: https://fb.me/e/2scbNr42t

¡Pleibol! received generous support from the Cordoba Corporation and Linda Alvarado, and federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

Chants and cheers are great, but sometimes—you gotta have more cowbell.

Fans celebrate in a multitude of ways. One way is using musical instruments that symbolize shared cultural heritage with their favorite players. Walk-up songs, maracas, and Spanish chants in the stands are the rhapsody of baseball and leave a mark on how we hear the game. Today, drums, cowbells, maracas, and güiras can be found in stadiums across the country. Used originally in Caribbean musical genres (like merengue, bachata, bolero, son cubano, and salsa), these instruments’ celebratory sounds are now part of the shared culture of baseball.

More than 50 years old, this handmade cowbell was used by the Nuñez family at baseball games in Cuba, New York, and Florida to cheer on their favorite players. Today, it helps our experts tell the story of how fans have shaped the history of baseball, one of the themes of our new exhibition, ¡Pleibol! In the Barrios and the Big Leagues / En los barrios y las grandes ligas.

Join us online tonight, July 9, at 7pm ET for ¡Pleibol!'s opening celebration and get a behind-the-scenes look at the new exhibition: https://fb.me/e/2scbNr42t

¡Pleibol! received generous support from the Cordoba Corporation and Linda Alvarado, and federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center.

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14th Street And Constitution Avenue, NW
Washington D.C., DC
20560

Metro: The Federal Triangle and Smithsonian stations, on Metrorail's Blue and Orange lines, are located near the Mall. The use of public transportation is recommended as free parking is limited and posted times are enforced.

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Here on Facebook, we share objects from our collections, updates from our experts, and our passion for American history. We love to hear your personal connections to American history! The museum is free and open daily except December 25. Feel free to ask us for visiting tips and recommendations! Find us elsewhere: -Blog: http://americanhistory.si.edu/blog -Twitter: http://twitter.com/amhistorymuseum -Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amhistorymuseum - Newsletter: http://s.si.edu/Newsletter While on-topic discussion is encouraged, we ask that you express yourself in a civil manner and treat other users with respect. The Smithsonian also monitors and may remove posts consistent with its terms of use. - Our terms of use: http://si.edu/Termsofuse#user-gen - Our Privacy Policy: http://www.si.edu/Privacy

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The National Museum of American History collects and preserves more than 1.8 million artifacts—all true national treasures. We take care of everything from the original Star-Spangled Banner and Abraham Lincoln’s top hat to Dizzy Gillespie’s angled trumpet and Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers from The Wizard of Oz (returning to display in 2018, stay tuned). Our collections form a fascinating mosaic of American life and comprise the greatest single collection of American history.

Through incomparable collections, rigorous research, and dynamic public outreach, we explore the infinite richness and complexity of American history. We help people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future.

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