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Found 1,755 Collections


American Children's Relics of 1700-1800s

This collection showcases furniture, clothing, paintings, etc. that represent the American children of the 1700-1800s. This period exhibits the transition time between being considered a 2nd class citizen living in a British colony to learning what it means to be an American. The American Revolution lasted from 1775 to 1783 ultimately ending in a victory for the patriots. With the war won and independence gained, America took her first steps into a journey of discovery. 

The first object in this collection starts from the beginning (or a little before) the Revolution and the last items is documented around 1859, well into American culture growing and forming into it's own. Specifically, the items here focus on the lives of the children of this historic moment that may not even understand the revolution going on around them. The objects reflect British influence and American pioneering. These relic grasp the material culture of the first generation of children that were born "Americans."

Heidi Chong

American Democracy

In conjunction with the Smithsonian Institutions Traveling Exhibition Services - American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith exhibition

More than just waging a war of independence, American revolutionaries took a great leap of faith and established a new government based on the sovereignty of the people. It was truly a radical idea that entrusted the power of the nation not in a monarchy but in its citizens. Each generation since continues to question how to form "a more perfect union" around this radical idea.

Emma Garten

American Enterprise: Corporate Era (Great Depression, New Deal)

During the Corporate Era, the United States experienced its most serious economic crisis; in response, political leaders intervened in the economy in innovative ways. In this collection, you’ll explore life during the Great Depression and evaluate New Deal policies by participating in a learning activity the teacher specifies.
Zach Etsch

American Flag/Washington DC Flag Lesson, One or Two Part

With this collection, students will use a version of the Zoom In thinking routine to analyze several flags with an eye toward creating their own flag at the end of the lesson.

The Guiding Questions used in this lesson are:

-How did the United States flag change over time?

-Why do countries feel that it's important to have a single flag?

The Big Idea for this lesson is:

Simple symbols, like the those presented on flags, can represent a lot about a country's past and what makes that country unique.  

In this lesson, students will begin by exploring the collection and answering, using the quiz tool,  the questions embedded about the two early versions of the American flag.  The questions push students to analyze each flag, consider how versions of the American flag changed, and think critically about how symbolism can be used in a flag to represent unique and/or historical aspects of a country. 

Once students have completed the quiz questions, the teacher will call them together to discuss  the evolution of the American flag and what the elements of the flag's current and former designs represent.  The teacher will then turn the class's attention to the Washington DC flag and reiterate that its design was taken from George Washington's English ancestry.  Using this as another example of a flag drawing upon elements of history, the teacher will  make the point that the DC flag hasn't changed in appearance in over 80 years.  

The class will brainstorm what they feel are the most important and/or interesting aspects of DC history based on what they have studied.  They will then brainstorm symbols that could be used to abstractly represent elements of DC's unique past, status, and culture.  

Once a number of good ideas have been generated, each student will have the chance to create their own version of the DC flag, either modifying the exiting version of creating a completely new design.  On the draft sheets will be a checklist that focus's students attention on the  most important aspects of any flag, namely its symbolism and its connection to the history of the place it represents.  

If the teacher wishes to make this a longer activity featuring multiple drafts, he or she can consider looping in the art teacher to discuss concepts of sketching and design.  


Peter Gamber

American Indian and Black Civil Rights: A Shared Legacy

This is a topical collection concerning Civil Rights activism led by the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the Black Panther Party. It includes photographs, videos, and documentation from both movements. The imagery in this collection addresses the shared legacy of American Indian and Black resistance efforts in the 20th century. It also shows the continued impact of these efforts and their modern reflections, like ongoing Indigenous led efforts against the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and Black Lives Matter.

This collection includes remarkable figures in both AIM and the BPP, like Russell Means (Oglala Lakota) and Angela Davis. The daily lives of those whom AIM and BPP stood up for is also addressed.

This collected was created and organized by Kenlontae' Turner, a visual artist and gallery coordinator, during his time as an intern at NMAI. Some additional context and editing was provided by Maria Ferraguto to support his work during her time time as an intern at NMAI. 

Maria Ferraguto

American Indian Culture and Rights


Meridith Manis

American Indian Heritage Month Resources

These classroom resources from different Smithsonian museums focus on American Indian history and culture. 

Philippa Rappoport

American Indian Movement and the Traditional Way of Life

These resources provide examples of the role of traditions in the American Indian Movement and how American Indians have attempted to keep their traditional way of life viable. #ethnicstudies

Kip Harmon

American Indian Women

This collection will present, in tangible form, the position of the American Indian woman as equals to her husband, but simply possessing a different skillset.  

Sydney Lundeberg

American Indians

Paintings and photographs that represent the Lakota, Inuit, Kwakiutl, Pueblo, and Iroquois tribes. This aligns with Virginia SOL USI.3b. Teachers may have students look critically at each image. Students can then create a claim or hypothesis of what tribe they think it represents, along with supporting details. Teachers should use the "what makes you say that" strategy (described on the first image). This is a great check for understanding or formative assessment of student learning.

Michelle Moses

American Landscape

Images of landscapes can tell you about how the artist views his or her nation in the moment. What does it value? What does it aspire to be? What are its strengths and limitations? 

Evaluate to what extent views of American Identity changed from 1800-1980.

Sarah Wiseman

American Revolution


Sarah Rafalowitz

American Revolution

The American Revolution marked the point in history when the colonist finally felt it was time to demolish the current government in the colonies since their existence was to only make money for England and they knew that there was more to them then that.

Omar Arreola

American Revolution

Library/Social Studies Curriculum Crosswalk Resources
Erin Kizziar

American Revolution

Lesson plan for 5th grade (90 minutes) for use with Mike Wilkins Preamble, Schoolhouse Rock video, etc. #SAAMteach


American Revolution Era

The following objects are important symbols of the American Revolutionary era. All these objects either lead up to the revolution, were used during the war, or were vital in the success of the war. The American Revolution marked the urgency for independence amongst the colonies from Great Britain. This call for Independence has brought us to where we are today. 

vasthy gonzalez

American Revolution, Investigation 1, Events of the Revolution

This collection is intended to accompany a study of the major events of the American Revolution. In this study the following goals are targeted: 

Big Ideas: 

  • We must be alert, questioning, and thoughtful readers of history. 
  • All retelling of history is an interpretation. 
  • Historical context is critical for understanding artifacts and historical interpretations. 
  • History is multifaceted and can be understood differently from multiple perspectives. 
  • Historical events are connected to current events.

Expert Thinking: 

  • Analyze primary and secondary sources for relevant historical details.
  • Synthesize details to understand the story of America’s founding.
  • Explain and analyze cause and effect relationships across historical events. 
  • Interpret history using a variety of sources and understanding of perspectives, including: personal stories, events, and factual knowledge.

Guiding Questions: 

  • What forces affect historical change? (i.e. people, events, and ideas)
  • What are the important historical facts in the American Revolution? 
  • What events led to the American Revolution?


Section 1:  Colonial America and the French and Indian War

  • 4.7.1. Locate and identify the first 13 colonies and explain how their location and natural environment influenced their development. 
  • 4.7.10. Explain how the British colonial period created the basis for the development of political self-government and a free-market economic system. 
  • 4.8.2 Explain how political, religious, and economic ideas and interests brought about the Revolution. 

Section 2: Conflicting Interests 

  • 4.8.2 Explain how political, religious, and economic ideas and interests brought about the Revolution (e.g., resistance to imperial policy, the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts, taxes on tea, and Coercive Acts). 
  • 4.8.3. Describe the significance of the First and Second Continental Congresses and of the Committees of Correspondence.

Section 3: Declaring Independence 

  • 4.8.4. Identify the people and events associated with the drafting and signing of the Declaration of Independence and the document’s significance, including the key political concepts it embodies, the origins of those concepts, and its role in severing ties with Great Britain. 
  • 4.9.6. Explain how the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence changed the way people viewed slavery.

Section 4: The Revolution, Briefly 

  • 4.9 Describe the course and consequences of the American Revolution. 
  • 4.9.1. Locate and identify the major military battles, campaigns, and turning points of the Revolutionary War. 
  •  4.9.2. Understand the roles of the American and British leaders, and the Indian leaders’ alliances on both sides. 
  • 4.9.3. Understand the roles of African Americans, including their alliances on both sides (especially the case of Lord Dunmore’s Proclamation and its impact on the war).

Section 5: Building the New Nation 

  • 4.10. Students describe the people and events associated with the development of the U.S. Constitution. 
  • 4.10.1. Describe the significance of the new Constitution of 1787, including the struggles over its ratification and the reasons for the Bill of Rights.  
  • 4.10.2. Describe the direct and indirect (or enabling) statements of the conditions on slavery in the Constitution and their impact on the emerging U.S. nation-state. 
  • 4.10.3. Describe how the Constitution is designed to secure our liberty by both empowering and limiting central government. 
  • 4.10.4. Understand the meaning of the American creed that calls on citizens to safeguard the liberty of individual Americans within a unified nation, to respect the rule of law, and to preserve the Constitution.


These artifacts are intended to provide students with a consistent opportunity to examine historical artifacts in order to make observations and connections to events of the time period. it is suggested that students examine 1-2 items at a time on a regular basis in order to evaluate each item as a historical source using a See-Think-Wonder routine. 


Kathryn Mancino

American stereotype: All Black Pilgrim Attire

Every year near Thanksgiving, images of our Pilgrims father begin to proliferate showing them as very austere and wearing only black clothing. This learning lab introduces images of Pilgrims that are compared with written primary sources. It was customary in the 17th century to inventory all the belongings of the deceased before they were distributed to the heirs. These inventories and the wills themselves provide detailed information about the attire of everyday Pilgrims of this period.

Arthur Glaser

American Transcendentalism

Transcendentalism is a philosophy that is rooted in the belief that man is inherently good but has been corrupted by society. Self reliance, self improvement, and peaceful protest were some methods practiced to reverse this effect. 

Linked in this collection are examples of the movement's influence in society, writings, and art.

Katie ODell

Americans in WWII battles

Jaacob Wiggins

An 11 year old's Letter and Lincoln's Beard

This teaching collection includes videos, portraits and lesson plans from the National Portrait Gallery and the National Museum of American History. During Abraham Lincoln's campaign to become president, an 11-year-old girl named Grace Bedell wrote a letter suggesting he grow a beard to gain more votes. Of course, Lincoln's beard became iconic in imagery during his Presidency and throughout the Civil War.

Ashley Naranjo

An Introduction to Hawai'ian Lei Making

All Polynesians have a history of making and giving of lei. From early times, Hawaiians have fashioned lei from shells, seeds, bone, and feathers and from more temporary materials such as leaves, vines, and a few indigenous flowers. Colorful flowers and greenery are braided, twisted, wrapped, or strung together to create lei for the neck, head, wrists and ankles. Lei are made and given for marriages, birthdays, luaus, and funerals. Leis are also given on informal occasions to express gratitude or warmth of friendship. In this collection, you’ll learn how to make your own lei and explore other examples of leis made from a variety of natural materials.
Ashley Naranjo

An Introduction to Japanese Painting

This collection was designed by the Education Department of the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery as a basic introduction to Japanese painting for educators. It is a collection of artworks from the museum's permanent collection that draw from a wide variety of formats, styles, media, and subjects that represent many of the major trends in Japanese painting. Each image includes key information about the artwork, as well as ideas for class discussion, lesson components, and/or links to resources such as videos and articles which provide additional information about the artwork. Feel free to copy the collection and adapt it to your own use. 

Keywords: Buddha, Hokusai, Mount Fuji, watercolor, bodhisattva, Fugen, Sōtatsu, cherry blossoms, seasons, Genji, crane, emakibyobukakemono, ukiyo-e, map, teacher, student, autumn, Japan, Japanese art, landscape, Edo period, Buddhism, Heian period, water, ocean, wave, boat, flower, insect, Muromachi period, river, surimono

Freer and Sackler Galleries
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