National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History Home of the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag that inspired the national anthem.
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The National Museum of American History collects, preserves and displays American heritage in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. One of our most iconic objects? Dorothy's Ruby Slippers from "The Wizard of Oz."

Maggie Lena Walker was one of the most important African American businesswomen in the nation. Do you know her story? #B...
02/28/2020
Pennies and nickels add up to success: Maggie Lena Walker

Maggie Lena Walker was one of the most important African American businesswomen in the nation. Do you know her story? #BecauseOfHerStory

Maggie Lena Walker was one of the most important Black businesswomen in the nation, and today too few people have heard of her.

On this day in 1983, the M*A*S*H finale aired. It remains the most watched scripted television episode of all time.
02/28/2020
M*A*S*H ended, but is not gone or forgotten

On this day in 1983, the M*A*S*H finale aired. It remains the most watched scripted television episode of all time.

The M*A*S*H finale, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen,” remains the most watched scripted television episode of all time.

Nannie Helen Burroughs devoted her career to preparing African American women for leadership in both professional and pu...
02/28/2020

Nannie Helen Burroughs devoted her career to preparing African American women for leadership in both professional and public life. Burroughs argued suffrage would help black women secure the "respect and protection" they were often denied.

Here she is pictured with other members of the Women's Convention (WC) Auxiliary to the National Baptist Convention. You can learn more about Burroughs story as well as many other women who fought for women's rights in Creating Icons: How We Remember Woman Suffrage,
a new exhibit opening March 6: https://americanhistory.si.edu/exhibitions/creating-icons

Every election season revolves around a set of issues—health care, foreign affairs, the economy. In 1868, at the height ...
02/27/2020
In 1868, black suffrage was on the ballot

Every election season revolves around a set of issues—health care, foreign affairs, the economy. In 1868, at the height of Reconstruction, the pressing issue was African Americans' voting rights.

Every election season in the United States revolves around a set of issues—health care, foreign affairs, the economy. In 1868, at the height of the Reconstruction, the pressing issue was black male suffrage.

In the mid-1900s, it was common practice for Northern schools to keep their African American players on the bench when t...
02/26/2020

In the mid-1900s, it was common practice for Northern schools to keep their African American players on the bench when they played in the South.

In October 1940, 2,000 students took to the streets to demand that their classmate Leonard Bates play in an upcoming football game. Despite the signatures of 4,000 students and the presence of 2,000 students in a picket line, NYU leadership would not let Bates play.

N.Y.U. lost to Missouri, 33-0.

When Margaret Knight submitted this model to apply for a patent, a machine to make flat bottomed paper bags, she discove...
02/26/2020

When Margaret Knight submitted this model to apply for a patent, a machine to make flat bottomed paper bags, she discovered a man had seen her design and patented it in his name. She sued … and won. The machine is one of her many patents.

Knight’s patent model (as well as hundreds of other models in the collection) have been designated Open Access. That means you can download, transform, and share them for any purpose, for free. Knight invented the paper bag machine, what will you imagine?

Learn more: si.edu/OpenAccess

02/25/2020
Smithsonian

Smithsonian

The Smithsonian's treasures belong to you. Now you can download, transform and share the Smithsonian’s Open Access content for any purpose, for free, without further permission from the Smithsonian.

We can't wait to see how you get creative with about 2.8 million Smithsonian collection images, 3D models, data and research.

Tune in to our #SmithsonianOpenAccess event tonight at 7:15 p.m. ET at si.edu/OpenAccess.

Tenor saxophonist Lester Young was known for his unique voice, his gentle style of playing, and his signature porkpie ha...
02/23/2020

Tenor saxophonist Lester Young was known for his unique voice, his gentle style of playing, and his signature porkpie hat. That hat, as well as his three surviving instruments, are joining the collection.

“A touchstone figure in jazz history, these artifacts will provide us with new opportunities to engage our visitors in multiple stories about Young’s career, personal life and cultural impact,” explains curator Theodore S. Gonzalves.

Lester Young Jr. donated the objects tonight at a concert where the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra played his father’s music. Find out more about the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra, including how to get a FREE copy of this year’s Jazz Appreciation Month poster here: https://s.si.edu/JAMPoster

Support of jazz programming is made possible by the LeRoy Neiman and Janet Byrne Neiman Foundation, The Argus Fund, the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation, David C. Frederick and Sophia Lynn, Goldman Sachs and the John Hammond Performance Series Endowment Fund.

Today in 1895, the abolitionist leader and civil rights champion Frederick Douglass dies. Just over a year before, Dougl...
02/20/2020

Today in 1895, the abolitionist leader and civil rights champion Frederick Douglass dies. Just over a year before, Douglass delivered his "The Lessons of the Hour" before the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, D.C. Pamphlets like this one shared his words with the wider world.

In the wide-ranging speech, Douglass described the many challenges African Americans faced as the 1800s came to an end—among them institutionalized racism, political repression, economic exploitation, and lynchings—and he assailed commentators who framed these issues as a "Negro problem," rather than a problem for the whole nation.

Douglass also singled out the issue of voting rights, telling listeners that he could not agree with those who thought the United States should enact new, educational qualifications for voting. Instead of making the vote more "exclusive," Douglass argued, the nation should focus on making it "more inclusive. I would not have it embrace merely the elite, but would include the lowly. I would not only include the men, I would gladly include the women, and make our government in reality as in name a government of the people and of the whole people."

You could only bring what you could carry.When the Watanabe family was forced to relocate to incarceration camps during ...
02/19/2020

You could only bring what you could carry.
When the Watanabe family was forced to relocate to incarceration camps during World War II, they brought this suitcase with them to the Minidoka camp in Idaho. It bears their last name and their identification number: 17703.

On February 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, under which nearly 75,000 American citizens of Japanese ancestry were taken into custody. Another 45,000 Japanese nationals living in the United States were also incarcerated.

Learn more: http://s.si.edu/RightingAWrong

Righting a Wrong: Japanese Americans and WWII was generously supported by the Terasaki Family Foundation, with additional assistance from the Japanese American Citizens League and AARP.

Educator, journalist, and activist, Mary Church Terrell fought for civil rights and women’s rights. Fighting for women's...
02/18/2020

Educator, journalist, and activist, Mary Church Terrell fought for civil rights and women’s rights.

Fighting for women's suffrage, Terrell protested alongside the "Silent Sentinels" who picketed the White House. Terrell pressed white suffragists to support African American women's right to vote, and she continued the fight to secure black women’s access to the ballot after the ratification of the 19th Amendment. #BecauseOfHerStory

Tomorrow, American History TV will interview our director, Anthea Hartig, about women's suffrage live from the museum. More information: https://s.si.edu/38GJzAX

Today we're reflecting on the legacy of Frederick Douglass. Like many of the men and women born into slavery in the Unit...
02/14/2020

Today we're reflecting on the legacy of Frederick Douglass. Like many of the men and women born into slavery in the United States, Douglass did not know the exact date of his birth; he adopted February 14 as his birthday later in life.

As an abolitionist leader and civil rights champion, one of the focuses of Douglass's public career was ensuring that all Americans enjoyed the full benefits of citizenship. In 1882, he wrote to William F. Gable: "In a composite nation like ours, as before the Law, there should be no rich no poor, no high, no low, no white, no black, but common country, common citizenship, equal rights, and a common destiny."

Douglass's letter is on view in the exhibition, "American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith": s.si.edu/vision-citizenship.

Scroll no further: This is the Galentine's Day content you're looking for. This article is full of Galentines making a d...
02/13/2020
Making waves: Beauty salons and the black freedom struggle

Scroll no further: This is the Galentine's Day content you're looking for. This article is full of Galentines making a difference together.

Madam C.J. Walker worked with Marjorie Stewart Joyner to make waves in business. Joyner and Mary McLeod Bethune then joined forces to promote the political causes they believed in.

Minnijean Brown Trickey was one of nine African American students who desegregated the Little Rock, Arkansas, high schoo...
02/11/2020

Minnijean Brown Trickey was one of nine African American students who desegregated the Little Rock, Arkansas, high school in 1957—the "Little Rock Nine." At the age of 15, Trickey learned firsthand how hard it can be to stand at frontlines of social change.

After joining Little Rock's high school, Trickey and her fellow African American students were continually singled out and harassed. Trickey fought back. In 1958, she was expelled from the school for calling a student who verbally and physically assaulted her “white trash.” Trickey's parents appealed her expulsion in this letter to the Little Rock school board.

Starting today, you can help the Smithsonian Transcription Center dig deeper into Trickey's story—and the stories of other girls—by transcribing collections from across the Smithsonian connected to the history of girlhood: https://s.si.edu/transcribe-girlhood

During World War II, African Americans fought for both victory against enemies abroad and against discrimination at home...
02/10/2020

During World War II, African Americans fought for both victory against enemies abroad and against discrimination at home—a “Double V.” The “Double V” campaign swept the country, where African Americans faced separate and unequal treatment and facilities, including in the Army itself.

Known as "The Double V Song," this 1942 number by Andy Razaf and J.C. Johnson praised the service and patriotism of African American soldiers with witty lyrics like “His color doesn’t run.”

Learn more: https://americanhistory.si.edu/many-voices-exhibition/military

These striped "pajamas" were worn by U.S. Navy Commander Allan "Al" Carpenter while he was held as a prisoner of war for...
02/07/2020
Smithsonian holds poignant memories for Navy aviator held captive in Vietnam

These striped "pajamas" were worn by U.S. Navy Commander Allan "Al" Carpenter while he was held as a prisoner of war for more than six years in North Vietnam. Today, they help us tell the story of the hundreds of Americans who were captured and held as POWs during the Vietnam War.

We're honored to be stewards of this object from Commander Carpenter's experience as a prisoner of war. Visitors can see them on display in our exhibition, "The Price of Freedom: Americans at War." Our military history curator, Frank Blazich, contributed to this segment on the TODAY show.

Kicking off a new series of reports on the treasures in “America’s attic,” the Smithsonian, Harry Smith profiles retired U.S. Navy Commander Al Carpenter, for whom one particular exhibit holds powerful memories: the clothes he wore during his more than six years of captivity in Vietnam.

This Bible Quilt was the creation of Harriet Powers, a resident of Clarke County, Georgia. In 1886, Powers exhibited the...
02/06/2020

This Bible Quilt was the creation of Harriet Powers, a resident of Clarke County, Georgia. In 1886, Powers exhibited the quilt at the Athens Cotton Fair. There, it captured the imagination of the artist Jennie Smith, a young artist, who later wrote: "I have spent my whole life in the South, and am perfectly familiar with thirty patterns of quilts, but I had never seen an original design, and never a living creature portrayed in patchwork, until the year 1886. . .The scenes on the quilt were biblical and I was fascinated." Powers initially rebuffed Smith's offer to buy the quilt, but a later financial hardship forced her to reconsider. She agreed to sell the quilt, but only after carefully describing each of its eleven panels.

Harriet Powers was born enslaved near Athens, Georgia on October 29, 1837. At a young age, she married Armstead Powers. Together, they had at least nine children. Learn more about Powers and her quilt here: s.si.edu/powers-quilt

This Medal of Honor was awarded to Sergeant Major Christian Fleetwood, 4th U.S. Colored Troops, for heroism on the field...
02/05/2020

This Medal of Honor was awarded to Sergeant Major Christian Fleetwood, 4th U.S. Colored Troops, for heroism on the field of battle at Chaffin’s Farm on September 29, 1864. Fleetwood carried the unit's colors after two color bearers had been shot down. He was 23 years old.

In the wake of the Emancipation Proclamation, the U.S. military formed the United States Colored Troops. By the end of the war, more than 186,000 African Americans joined the U.S. armed forces. Of these, an estimated 93,542 black soldiers were formerly enslaved and understood firsthand the nation’s fight for freedom.

Even as black soldiers fought and died, their citizenship status remained uncertain. Racist policies limited opportunities for black soldiers to become line officers and paid them lower wages than their white counterparts.

Five years after the end of the Civil War, the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified. It prohibits federal and state governments from placing restrictions on voting based on race. However, many state governments throughout the South had adopted new laws and regulations that did not directly reference race but still barred African American men from the ballot box. Literacy tests, poll taxes, elaborate registration systems, intimidation, and violence—including violent assaults and lynchings—were all used to silence African American voters and exclude them from the polls. More about the Fifteenth Amendment: https://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/right-to-vote

Elizabeth Keckley used needle and thread to make a difference. Discover her story. http://s.si.edu/Keckley #BecauseOfHer...
02/04/2020
Elizabeth Keckley: Businesswoman and philanthropist

Elizabeth Keckley used needle and thread to make a difference. Discover her story. http://s.si.edu/Keckley #BecauseOfHerStory

This month, we've been exploring how American women made their place in the marketplace by participating in business and consumption. Recently, we shared the story of Brownie Wise, the woman who spearheaded Tupperware's now famous home-sales model. Wise's work gave generations of Americans (many of....

150 years ago today, Iowa approves the 15th Amendment, becoming the 28th and final state needed for the amendment's rati...
02/03/2020
Does an amendment give you the right to vote?

150 years ago today, Iowa approves the 15th Amendment, becoming the 28th and final state needed for the amendment's ratification.

This year, we're exploring voting rights—from the 15th Amendment to the 19th amendment and beyond. Our first question: does an amendment give you the right to vote?

In 2020, the Fifteenth Amendment—the first voting rights amendment added to the U.S. Constitution—celebrates its 150th anniversary. You’ve likely heard, perhaps on the news or in the classroom, that the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave or granted African American men the right...

02/02/2020
Reflections on the Greensboro Lunch Counter

Sixty years ago on this day, Jibreel Khazan, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, and David Richmond sat down at a lunchcounter in Greensboro, North Carolina—an act that helped ignite a youth-led movement to challenge racial inequality.

Civil Rights activists Joseph McNeil, Diane Nash, and John Lewis reflect on the history and legacy of the lunch counter from the F. W. Woolworth department s...

Jibreel Khazan remembered his collar feeling tighter around his neck and his temperature rise as he, Joseph McNeil, Fran...
02/01/2020

Jibreel Khazan remembered his collar feeling tighter around his neck and his temperature rise as he, Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, and David Richmond approached the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.

When the four African American college students sat down at this lunch counter on this day in 1960, they helped change America. Sixty years ago today, the Greensboro Four sat at this "whites only" lunch counter at the Woolworth's store in Greensboro, North Carolina, and politely asked for service. Their request was refused. When they were asked to leave, the students remained in their seats in protest.

For the six months that followed, hundreds of students, civil rights organizations, churches, and members of the community joined the protest and boycotted the store. The sit-in inspired others across the country.


Learn more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian-institution/lessons-worth-learning-moment-greensboro-four-sat-down-lunch-counter-180974087/

Curator Jon Grinspan explains, “Every impeachment is a microcosm of a larger cultural conflict.” When President Johnson'...
01/31/2020
The Smithsonian is already hunting for impeachment artifacts. Senators, please hand over your fidget spinners.

Curator Jon Grinspan explains, “Every impeachment is a microcosm of a larger cultural conflict.”

When President Johnson's impeachment trial began in 1868, it reflected national debates about Reconstruction and the future of the country after the Civil War. Learn more: https://americanhistory.si.edu/blog/impeachment

Our political history curators, including Grinspan, are following the current impeachment trial and, as Peggy McGlone explains, will work "to compile a group of items that will help the museum chronicle this highly charged moment in a nonpartisan way.

Curators at the National Museum of American History are compiling objects to illustrate the latest chapter of the Trump presidency.

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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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