National Museum of African American History and Culture
National Museum of African American History and Culture
Welcome to the National Museum of African American History and Culture's Collection Connection Grid for National History Day 2019!
Below is an assortment of selected documents, images, objects and videos that highlight the African American experience in relation to the 2019 NHD theme: Triumph and Tragedy in History. Use these items as inspiration for a project topic, or use the items to help expand your research on a topic you have already selected. This collection is designed to be self-guided by students and educators participating in National History Day.
Keywords: African American, NMAAHC, National History Day, NHD, Collection, Connection, Grid, triumph, tragedy, history, project, topic, ideas, 2019
Welcome to the National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection Grid for the 2018 NHD Theme!
Below are some documents, images, objects and videos to help you explore the 2018 NHD theme: Conflict and Compromise in History. These documents, images, objects and videos are intended to help highlight the African American experience and perspective in American and international history.
These documents, images, objects and videos may help you form an idea for a project topic or they may help to expand the narrative of your selected project. Click on the text icon for possible project connections, questions to help with analysis, creative activities, and/or the paper clip icon to reveal questions or comments to spark your curiosity.
NHD at NMAAHC 2018 - Conflict and Compromise in History: Free People of Color in Antebellum America Making A Way Out of No Way
Welcome to the National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection Grid for our 2018 NHD theme book article: "Conflict and Compromise: Free People of Color in Antebellum America Making A Way Out of No Way."
Below are some objects and images to help you explore the lives and consider the perspective of free African Americans during the Antebellum Era. These objects may help you form an idea for a project topic or they may help to expand the narrative of your selected project.
Click on the information icon to learn more about the history or archival information of the objects and images.
Click on the paperclip icon for examples of project connections, close reading activities, and selected focuses to highlight interesting aspects of an object or image.
Welcome to the National Museum of African American History and Culture Collection Grid for the 2017 NHD Theme!
Below are some objects and videos to help you explore the 2017 NHD theme: Taking a Stand in History. These objects will help you consider the perspective of the African American experience in history.
These objects may help you form an idea for a project topic or they may help to expand the narrative of your selected project. Click on the text icon for possible project connections and/or the hotspots to reveal object questions to spark your curiosity.
The artifact questions should encourage viewers to think and explore the history of the object or video on their own!
The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is the first museum on the National Mall to be recognized as a LEED Gold building due to its use of renewable energy sources and locally-sourced building materials. LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certifications are granted to buildings and other structures that meet global standards in areas such as water use, energy efficiency, and use of sustainable materials. One of the ways NMAAHC is using renewable energy is through the use of solar panels on its roof. Although the solar panels are not visible to our visitors, they produce enough energy to power 11 average-sized U.S. homes for a year.
Use this activity to engage your students in a lesson covering solar power, electricity, and the factors that affect its production.
Keywords: solar, power, STEM, science, LEED, environment, energy, NMAAHC, African American, National Mall
This collection highlights the enslaved and free African American perspective and experience during the Civil War with collection objects from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, other Smithsonian units, and relevant media.
Keywords: NMAAHC, NMAAHC Education, African American, Civil War, United States Colored Troops, soldier, war, emancipation, history, primary sources
Utilizing primary sources and other material, students can explore the subject of Buffalo Soldiers and their role in American history.
Keywords: NMAAHC, African American, soldiers, westward, buffalo soldier, primary sources, multiple perspectives
Martin Luther King Jr.’s fight for equality did not end with the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. In his last years, King’s focus shifted toward achieving economic equality and combating poverty in the United States, denouncing the United States’ involvement in the Vietnam War, and contending with the rise of The Black Power Movement.
This Learning Lab highlights documents, images, objects, and media from the National Museum of African American History and Culture and other Smithsonian units that help to tell the story of Martin Luther King Jr.’s final years, his assassination, and his enduring legacy.
Keywords: nmaahc, Martin Luther King Jr, MLK, Jr., African American, civil rights, last years, Chicago, Vietnam, poverty, Poor People's Campaign, Resurrection City, Memphis, assassination, legacy, Coretta Scott King, Reverend
In 1852, Solomon G. Brown of Washington D.C. became the first African American employed by the Smithsonian Institution. He was an unusual man of his time, as he was a literate free person of color in Washington D.C., where slavery was legal until 1862. Additionally, Mr. Brown was an influential member of the African American community in Washington D.C, before and after the Civil War. For 54 years, Mr. Brown worked at the Smithsonian Institution in a variety of positions. He saw the institution change and grow. In 1902, the Smithsonian honored Mr. Brown for his time and service.
This Learning Lab explores the experience of Solomon G. Brown and his work at the Smithsonian Institution. Exploring his career can highlight the complexities of slavery, freedom, race, and citizenship that African Americans experienced in Washington D.C. through the latter half of the nineteenth century, which included the late Antebellum Period, the Civil War, the Gilded Age and the beginnings of the Jim Crow Era. His life poses an interesting contrast to the more normative narratives of African Americans during the mid to late nineteenth century.
Discussion questions are included at the beginning of the Learning Lab.
Keywords: nmaahc, African American, Smithsonian, Institution, museum, castle, secretary, freedom, slavery, Washington D.C. DC, district, Columbia, research, pioneer, Solomon, Brown, first, civil war, antebellum, reconstruction, Jim Crow, 19th century, 20th century
Historical thinking skills allow historians to better practice and interpret history. This series teaches students how to develop these skills to become better historians themselves.
This Learning Lab will guide students through the process of defining historical context and practicing employing strategies from an example dealing with the 1968 Poor People's Campaign.
Historical context is the background information that informs a deeper understanding of a historical individual, group or event. Historical context is important because it allows historians to better understand history in the ways a historical individual or group understood the world around them, which leads historians to analyze the past more accurately.
Keywords: nmaahc, African, American, historical, thinking, skills, context, historical, contextualization, background, 1968, Poor People's Campaign, history, interpret, analyze
Welcome to the National Museum of African American History and Culture's Collection Connection Grid for National History Day 2020! Below is an assortment of selected documents, images, objects and videos that highlight the African American experience in relation to the 2020 NHD theme: Breaking Barriers in History. Use these items as inspiration for a project topic, or use the items to help expand your research on a topic you have already selected. This collection is designed to be self-guided by students and educators participating in National History Day.
Keywords: African American, NMAAHC, National History Day, NHD, Collection, Connection, Grid, breaking, barriers, history, project, topic, ideas, 2020
In celebration of Black History Month 2020, we have put together a gallery of 106 images of everyday black history meant to celebrate, inspire, and encourage exploration of the diversity of the African American experience. These images may be viewed leisurely, or for a deeper dive, use the questions provided under the "How to Analyze an Image" square. We also suggest you watch "The Danger of a Single Story" TEDtalk by Chimamanda Ngozi and think about its overall message. Once you have finished viewing the images, make sure to consider the final reflection questions located in a square at the end of the Learning Lab.
Keywords: African American, NMAAHC, images, every day, black, history, month, analyze
In celebration of the Fourth of July, this Learning Lab considers the day’s meaning in the history of the African American community and their nation.
Take some time to explore the objects, images, documents and media that explore the Fourth of July in relation to the African Americans from the Revolutionary War to the modern day. Questions to deepen exploration are embedded into each of the squares.
Keywords: nmaahc, African, American, Fourth, July, 4th, slavery, enslavement, freedom, Revolutionary, War, British, Independence, celebration, Douglass, Washington, Founding, Fathers, declaration
Wakanda Learning Lab is this?
This Learning Lab explores the importance of representation in popular media. How are people portrayed? Why are they portrayed? What does this say about a people in a society and the society itself? How do these messages affect and inform us about others and ourselves?
First, how are African Americans represented in popular media. Second, how African, the African Diaspora, and African American culture are represented in Black Panther (both as a comic book character and as part of the modern Marvel cinematic universe) and through other superhero lore.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture celebrates the museum's acquirement of the movie costume of the iconic and groundbreaking Marvel comic book character Black Panther. The character of Black Panther (King T'Challa of Wakanda), and his iconic suit, debuted in the Marvel cinematic universe in the 2015 film Captain America: Civil War, and featured in his self-titled movie Black Panther in 2018. Since the debut of Black Panther (King T'Challa of Wakanda) in the Fantastic Four #52 in July 1966, Black Panther has been a trailblazer for the black superheroes that have followed him in print and on screen.
Students can explore this Learning Lab independently. Learning exercises and worksheets have been provided to help enhance the exploration of the content.
Keyword: nmaahc, African, American, Black, Panther, Marvel, T'Challa, Wakanda, suit, comic, superhero, super, hero, civil war, Falcon, Bumblebee, Vixen, Storm, Nick Fury, Luke Cage, DC, universe, Green Lantern, Misty
On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson asked the United States Congress for a declaration of war against Germany. The United States could no longer sustain anti-war policies and rhetoric, diplomatic neutrality, and an isolationist outlook as it had since 1914. A combination of elements such as unrestricted German submarine warfare, rumored invasions, horrific new tactics of fighting, and technologies of war contributed to Wilson’s request. Congress granted President Wilson’s request, and on April 6, 1917, the United States officially entered the Great War*. Wilson claimed that the world would “be made safe for democracy.”
As the United States was preparing to protect freedom and equality internationally, African Americans were struggling against racism in the forms of economic oppression, violence, and legal as well as social inequality. Though citizenship and male suffrage had been endowed to African Americans by the Fourteenth (1868) and Fifteenth (1870) Amendments, many African Americans found it dangerous, if not deadly, to practice the fruits of American democracy to which they were entitled. Despite the magnitude and horrors of war, the African American community believed that fighting in the Great War, demonstrating their patriotism, loyalty, and bravery would show white Americans they deserved equality and civil rights.
This Learning Lab explores the interwoven legacy of President Woodrow Wilson and African Americans before, during, and immediately after the Great War (1914-1918).
*The Great War, the First World War, and World War I will be used interchangeably to name the war.
Keywords: NMAAHC, NMAAHC Education, African American, World War One, Great War, First World War, soldier, war, Woodrow Wilson, president, Jim Crow, primary sources, stories
In celebration of Smithsonian's Year of Music, let us look back a century to an early jazz classic that detailed the experience of African American soldiers on the front lines in Europe during the First World War.
Amid the First World War (1914 - 1918), a new musical genre called jazz would take the world by storm. Jazz was the product of the African American experience, history, and culture. James Reese Europe contributed to the music form by bringing jazz overseas while fighting with the 369th Infantry Regiment (also known as the Harlem Hellfighters) during the war. Furthermore, James Reese Europe composed tunes that reflected the African American experience on the front lines of the war in Europe. In this Learning Lab, you will explore the life and contributions of James Reese Europe, and consider what influenced him when he composed his 1919 classic, On Patrol In No Man's Land.
The Smithsonian Year of Music is an Institution-wide initiative to increase public engagement, advance understanding, and connect communities in Washington, D.C., across the nation, and around the globe. The Smithsonian Year of Music highlights and shares our vast musical holdings, bringing together our resources in history, art, culture, science, and education.
How did African Americans attempt to travel safely in the United States during the age of Jim Crow?
This Learning Lab investigates the question of African American travel during the age of Jim Crow, and how the Green Book assisted by providing African American a directory of welcoming hotels, motels, travel lodges, restaurants, gas stations, and other facilities as they journeyed throughout the United States. This Learning Lab employs the use of primary source analysis of NMAAHC and other Smithsonian unit objects and outside media clips to help answer this question.
NMAAHC, African American, Green, book, travel, Jim Crow, car, road,
segregation, hotel, motel, gas station, restaurants, United States, primary
Representation in media is important.
In this Learning Lab, we will explore how the African American soldiers fighting in the Civil War are portrayed in two films: Glory (1989) and Lincoln (2012).
History X Media X Culture (HMC) is a series designed by the National Museum of African American History and Culture to teach students historical thinking skills of analysis and interpretation, and also media literacy by exploring historic and modern films about or created by African Americans.
What can we learn, and what do we learn about history from popular media? How does popular media influence our understanding of history? How does the history portrayed in popular media change from the historical account based on primary sources?
Furthermore, how are historical individuals and groups represented in popular media? How do these representations affect how we understand these historical persons and their modern-day descendants? How people are depicted on the screen influences our modern world. We must question and analyze what is said and shown in the media, and why it shown to us.
Your objectives are as follows:
1. Explore how the soldiers are represented in each film, and then compare the film’s portrayals.
2. Compare these representations to historical accounts and primary evidence.
3. Question why the changes were made in the film, and how do these changes affect our understanding of history and ourselves?
The movies contain images of the violence of war, carnage, and brief offensive languages.
The analysis questions are taken from the National Archives and Records Administration Document Analysis Worksheets, unless stated otherwise.
What was the world like 100 years ago?
How have things changed or stayed the same, and how does this deepen our understanding about history and of ourselves and our society? This Learning Lab explores this centuries-old question by asking you to analyze objects from the NMAAHC and other Smithsonian collections that were created in (or are likely dated to) the year 1919, particularly from the African American perspective.
This Learning Lab emphasizes the historical thinking skills of comparison and change over time. Historical comparison asks you to analyze the differences and similarities between two historical individuals, groups, events, objects, or ideas, or between someone or something historical with someone or something in the present. Change over time asks you to analyze how a historical artifact, individual, group, event or idea has changed over time, what factors contributed to the change, and what can this tell us about the past and inform us about the modern day.
The analysis questions are taken from the National Archives and Record Administration's Document Analysis Worksheets.
Keywords: NMAAHC, African American, 1919, world, century, comparison, change, time, World War I, segregation, Jim Crow, nineteenth, #NMAAHCteach
This Learning Lab from the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) will explore the connection between visual art and history.
When studying history, it is important to remember that all historical sources do not look the same. Visual art, being an active response to a stimulus, serves as a mirror to the contemporary landscape. Art engages in a conversation with history while acting as a visual expression of contemporary thoughts and ideas.
The new portrait of Henrietta Lacks by contemporary artist Kadir Nelson sheds new light on the story of a woman who gave so much and was given so little in return. Through a visual exploration of her portrait, students can learn more about Henrietta Lacks and her legacy in medical miracles, bioethics, and racial history. The questions, prompts, and information provided in this Learning Lab will help students hone their skills in visual literacy competency. Students can use this Learning Lab collection to help sharpen their historical thinking skills and expand their conceptions of historical sources.
The guiding questions of this Learning Lab are
- What is visual art’s connection to historical events? Why is it important that we recognize these connections?
- How do contemporary events shape artists’ responses in their art making?
- What does studying art add to our understanding of historical events and time periods?
The goals of this Learning Lab are
- Bridge the gap in understanding between art analysis and historical analysis
- Explore the inherent ties between art pieces and their surrounding historical context
- Introduce the foundations of formal art analysis and develop close looking skills for visual art pieces
If you are new to Learning Lab, visit https://learninglab.si.edu/help/getting-started to learn how to get started!
An innate function of being human is to preserve and share our experiences and stories. African American men and women have researched and recorded their history despite enslavement, racism, segregation, sexism, and opposition. Their research helped expand the known narratives of American and international history through the African American perspective and interpretation of historical sources. This Learning Lab explores selected African American historians of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Their research and works were critical to the foundation of African American studies and their activism helped open doors for future African Americans to enter and contribute to the field of history. The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, situated in the heart of the nation’s capital, serves as the physical manifestation of the efforts of African American historians featured in this lab.
Keywords: NMAAHC, NMAAHC Education, African American, historians, history, primary sources, stories
HOW TO USE THIS LAB:
Use the book excerpts, documents, images, objects, and media related to a highlighted historian in the Learning Lab to answer the questions provided in the Discussion Question page and/or or use them comparatively with information in your history textbook about the highlighted historical period.
- Revolutionary War (Squares 3 - 10)
William Cooper Nell (1816 – 1874) was born to a prominent African American abolitionist family in Boston, Massachusetts. As a young man, he was mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, wrote for Garrison’s abolitionist newspaper the Liberator, and was influential in the fight against segregation in Boston’s public transportation and accommodations during the 1840s and 1850s. In 1855, Nell authored The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, making it one of the first historical works to focus on African Americans.
- Civil War (Squares 11 - 18)
George Washington Williams (1849 – 1891) was born in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania. At the age of 14, he joined the Union Army during the Civil War. After the war, he finished his education in Massachusetts, became a minister, and founded a newspaper, The Commoner. By 1880, Williams moved to Ohio and became the first African American elected to the Ohio General Assembly. As a historian, Williams is most famous for writing the first comprehensive history of African Americans in the United States, a two-volume work called the History of the Negro Race in America from 1619 to 1880; as Negroes, as Slaves, as Soldiers, and as Citizens (1882). In 1887, he published A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion.
- Reconstruction (Squares 19 - 25)
William Edward Burghardt Du Bois (1868 – 1963) was born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. His studies, which focused on African American history, anthropology, and sociology, took him to study in Tennessee, Germany, and finally back to Massachusetts where he became the first African American to graduate with a PhD from Harvard. In the quest for civil rights, Du Bois helped established the Niagara Movement, and its successor, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). As a historian, he wrote widely on the African American experience, but one of his best-known works was Black Reconstruction in America (1935). While Black Reconstruction was refuted during the early twentieth century, the work is now considered one of the foundational texts of how Reconstruction is interpreted by today’s mainstream historians.
- Women and Gender History (Squares 26 - 31)
Anna Julia Cooper (1858 – 1964) was born to her enslaved mother and her white slaveholder father in Raleigh, North Carolina. She pursued education from an early age, as well as fought for women’s rights and gender equality. As a scholar at Oberlin College, she protested sexist treatment of women by taking courses and gaining degrees in subjects typically designated for men. She became an influential educator in Washington D.C. who saw her students attend some of the most prestigious colleges in the country. In 1925, Cooper completed her graduate studies at Sorbonne, University of Paris. She became the fourth African American woman to earn a PhD in History. In 1892, she wrote, A Voice from the South by a Black Woman of the South, focusing on the history and experiences of African American women in the South, and the need for their education to uplift the African American community as a whole.
- The First World War (Squares 32 - 37)
Carter Godwin Woodson (1875 - 1950) was born in New Canton, Virginia. He is known as the “Father of Black History” because of his numerous contributions to the field. Woodson was the son of poor, but land-owning former slaves. As he worked to support his family’s farm he did not enter high school until age twenty. Woodson earned his first degree from Berea College in Kentucky. He then worked, studied, and taught internationally before receiving his Bachelors and his Masters from the University of Chicago, and later his PhD from Harvard University. In 1915, he founded the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (now the Association for the Study of African-American Life and History), and in 1916 published the Journal of Negro History (now the Journal of African American History). In 1926, he established Negro History Week, which would later become Black History Month. In 1922, Woodson wrote The Negro in Our History, which covered African American history from African origins to the First World War. Woodson believed that history should not be a mere study of facts but the analyzation and interpretation of historical evidence for a deeper meaning.
- African American History: Slavery and Freedom (Squares 38 - 46)
John Hope Franklin (1915 – 2009) was born in Rentiesville, Oklahoma. In June 1921, the Franklin family endured and survived the deadly Tulsa Race Riots. Franklin earned his Bachelors from Fisk University, and would complete his Masters and PhD at Harvard. In 1949, he became the first African American historian to present at the Southern Historical Association. He was also the only African American to serve as the president of the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians. Franklin wrote widely on the African American experience, with his most notable work being the 1947 publication of From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans. Today, the work is in its tenth edition and is a staple of American history courses.
Beginning in the late 1940s, the notable African American writer, James Baldwin (1924-1987), lived abroad for much of his life. While acknowledging the benefits of his residence abroad to all of his works and life story, he always considered himself an American living as a “transatlantic commuter.” This Learning Lab Collection asks you to analyze the documents, images, and objects that give insight into James Baldwin's life as transatlantic commuter and to use these objects of Baldwin to understand how they impacted his work and writings.
A downloadable PDF workbook is included. The questions and activities are arranged as they appear in the Learning Lab Collection and are designed to enhance student exploration.
This Learning Lab is a companion piece of the digital NMAAHC exhibition Chez Baldwin.
Keywords: nmaahc, African, american, James, Baldwin, travel, Atlantic, commuter, writing, literature, Paris, New York, France, Turkey, Istanbul, Switzerland, United States, #NMAAHCteach
The National Museum of African American History and Culture welcomes you to learn about African American STEM contributions at NASA. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) became an official government agency in 1958, born from its predecessor, the National Advisory Council for Aeronautics (NACA).
In 1961, NASA selected its first African American astronaut candidate by the name of Edward Dwight Jr. Although he never flew in space, his selection as an astronaut candidate was a public display to integrate the space agency. Until then, NASA only had white male astronauts flying even though African American scientists, mathematicians, and engineers had been working for the agency for more than a decade.
Finally in 1981, Guion Bluford became the first African American to fly in space. Since then African Americans have continued to fill positions at NASA and make their contributions in space, from behind a desk, and in the laboratory.
This Learning Lab celebrates these individuals, their bravery, their exploratory spirit, and their desires to express themselves fully through their commitment to space exploration.
This is a celebration of them all.
Keywords: NASA, NMAAHC, NASM, Astronaut, African American, Scientist, Engineer, Mathematician, Technology, Space, Space Travel
Learn how George Washington Carver, born an enslaved person, who was stolen from his Missouri home by slave raiders, became one of the world's greatest agricultural researchers and botanists. Carver used his never-ending desire to learn to become one of the greatest minds in the areas of agricultural research and botany. While most may know of his creativeness when it comes to peanut products, he was also philanthropist who used his mind and discoveries to aid those in need.
He spent the last 47 years of his life working at Tuskegee Institute teaching methods of crop rotation, performing research into crop products and taught African American students and farmers farming techniques to increase self-sufficiency. This Learning Lab lesson provides a fun at home experiment that students of all ages can enjoy.
Keywords: STEM, NMAAHC, African American, George Washington Carver, Botany, Agriculture, Tuskegee Institute