Skip to Content

The Search for an American Identity

4 Favorites 1 Copy (view)
Language Arts And English +7

We live in a multicultural, multilingual, multinational America, which offers complicated, imposing, unsettling questions about American identity.  There are no easy answers to what is an American identity or perhaps no answers at all.  What is an American identity is an important subject in an ever changing America, and Smithsonian Institution exhibits and objects on display in various museums help us to seek answers to the question of what is identity and what is American identity.

papier-mache statue of liberty

National Museum of American History

Head of a Negro Woman

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Basketball jersey for Brooklyn Nets worn by Jason Collins, signed by teammates

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Employment of Negroes in Agriculture

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Thermos

National Museum of American History

Live on 6/14 - Raise It Up! Anthem for America Concert

National Museum of American History

Pie wagon, ca. 1897

National Museum of American History

KFC Family Bucket

National Museum of American History

sound recording: Ballad For Americans

National Museum of American History

Mickey Mouse Cap

National Museum of American History

Mickey Mouse

National Museum of American History

Dorothy's Ruby Slippers

National Museum of American History

Food Co-Op Bag

National Museum of American History

IN-N-OUT Lap Mat, 1988

National Museum of American History

The El Chico Cookbook

National Museum of American History

Boycott Lettuce Protest Button

National Museum of American History

Chocolate Pie

National Museum of American History

Boxing robe worn by Muhammad Ali

National Museum of American History

Baseball Glove, used by Sandy Koufax

National Museum of American History

Young boy with American flag

National Museum of American History

American flag recovered from the World Trade Center

National Museum of American History

Singing Contest: Example Entry by Nico Andino

National Museum of American History

Baseball card album from the Cuban Leagues, 1945

National Museum of American History

Coca-Cola Hecho en Mexico Bottle

National Museum of American History

Slave shackles

National Museum of American History

Work and Rest

National Museum of American History

Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller

National Museum of American History

Jazz

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Baseball, with Jackie Robinson Commemorative Stamp

National Museum of American History

Bloomingdale's: Broadway Ninety

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

American Flag Whirligig

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Poster, "Equality is Not a Special Right"

National Museum of American History

33c Women's Rights Movement single

National Postal Museum

Button, “Votes for Women”

National Museum of American History

Bridge from Mercury to Apollo

National Air and Space Museum

Pin, Postage Stamp, Apollo moon landings

National Air and Space Museum

33c Space Shuttle Program single

National Postal Museum

Cowboy

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Cowboy Boots

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Pinback button memorial depicting Martin Luther King, Jr.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Basketball signed by members of the U.S. "Dream Team"

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Button declaring "Black is Beautiful"

National Museum of African American History and Culture

George Washington Carver

National Portrait Gallery

$4.80 Mount Rushmore single

National Postal Museum

Washington Nationals Opening Day program, 2005

National Museum of American History

10c Preserve the Environment single

National Postal Museum

25c Yosemite single

National Postal Museum

39c Chesapeake Bay single

National Postal Museum

Oscar the Grouch Puppet

National Museum of American History

Save the Family Farm, Protest Pin

National Museum of American History

Ballad For Americans

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Purple Heart medal bestowed on Sergeant Cornelius H. Charlton

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Keep Us Flying!

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Tuskegee Airmen Congressional Gold Medal

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Black and White

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Illustrations for Black and white

Archives of American Art

Time Magazine, Vol. L, No. 12

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Wheaties cereal box featuring Michael Jordan

National Museum of African American History and Culture

34c United We Stand booklet single

National Postal Museum

We the People

National Portrait Gallery

Rosa Parks

National Portrait Gallery

Changing Face of America

National Portrait Gallery

Indian Faces

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Fourth of July Parade

Anacostia Community Museum Archives

America's New Immigrants

National Portrait Gallery

Button, "Who you callin' immigrant, pilgrim?", 1996

National Museum of American History

Mexican Boy

National Museum of American History

Russell (East New York)

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Digital image of a protester holding a Black Lives Matter sign

National Museum of African American History and Culture

W, America's Ketchup

National Museum of American History

Ruth Asawa internment camp ID

National Portrait Gallery

Shimomura Crossing the Delaware

National Portrait Gallery

Poster reading "Race is not a crime" used at Baltimore protests

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Red Cadillac Eldorado owned by Chuck Berry

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Albert Einstein

National Portrait Gallery

33c American Samoa single

National Postal Museum

World Solidarity with Puerto Rico

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Balbir Singh LAX Shuttle Driver Permit

National Museum of American History

Sampler

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

(Memories, portfolio) Immigrants

Smithsonian American Art Museum

32c Immigrants single

National Postal Museum

U.S. Immigration: Stemming the Tide

National Portrait Gallery

Button, "We Shall Overcome"

National Museum of American History

Button, "We Share The Dream"

National Museum of American History

“American Brewery” Sign

National Museum of American History

Basketball signed by members of the U.S. "Dream Team"

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Memorial poster for Martin Luther King, Jr.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Sammy Sosa

National Portrait Gallery

Pamphlet, "70,000 American Refugees - Made in USA"

National Museum of American History

Training robe worn by Muhammad Ali at the 5th Street Gym

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Some World Citizens

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Archie Bunker's Chair from All in the Family

National Museum of American History

Stars and Stripes Lunch Box

National Museum of American History

American folk songs [sound recording] / sung by the Seegers

Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections

Studio Portrait: Kurdish Family (?) [graphic]

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives

Mexican Family

Smithsonian American Art Museum

The Picayune Creole Cook Book

National Museum of African American History and Culture

A Taste of Heritage: The New African American Cuisine

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Red Beans and Rice-ly Yours: Recipes from New Orleans that Louis Armstrong Loved

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Tamalada

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Freedom from Want

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Freedom of Worship

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Man's First Step on the Moon

National Air and Space Museum

Julia Child

National Portrait Gallery

37c John Wayne single

National Postal Museum

Empress of the Blues

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Storyteller #1

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Sugar Sack

National Museum of American History

Mexican Kitchen

National Museum of American History

Poster, "Give a Hoot! Don't Pollute"

National Museum of American History

"We Can Do It!"

National Museum of American History

Eagle Figure

National Museum of American History

6c American Bald Eagle single

National Postal Museum

Eagle Dancers

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Eagle Dance

National Museum of the American Indian

Bridge from Mercury to Apollo

National Air and Space Museum

Button, “Votes for Women”

National Museum of American History

Letters From Camp by Frank Chi

Smithsonian Institution

33c Cinco de Mayo single

National Postal Museum

U.S. National Team Soccer Jersey, worn by Mia Hamm

National Museum of American History

indiVISIBLE: African-Native American Lives in the Americas

National Museum of the American Indian