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American history 2.0

National Museum of American History

American History Jam

National Museum of American History

American history through Iraqi eyes

National Museum of American History

American History (After Hours): The Great History of American Brewing

National Museum of American History
Speakers are: Susan Evans McClure (MC/Q&A moderator); Frank Clark of Colonial Williamsburg; Hugh Sisson of Heavy Seas Beer; Jon Grinspan, curator of Political History at the National Museum of American History; Kate Haulman, associate professor of History at American University, and finally, Charlie Papazian, founder and past president of the Brewers Association. This program was the inaugural event of the American Brewing Initiative at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, a research and collecting initiative aimed at documenting the history of brewers, brewers, and the beer industry. This initiative is made possible with the generous support of the Brewers Association, the not-for-profit trade association dedicated to small and independent American brewers.

American History (After Hours) 2015: Brewing Up History

National Museum of American History
How are today’s brewers inspired by history? Bluejacket brewery’s Greg Engert and beer historian Mike Stein discuss the art and science of brewing, moderated by Susan Evans, Program Director of the American Food History project. Greg and Mike share their story of creating new beers inspired by beer styles of the early 19th century and explore the connections between Washington, DC’s craft beer scene today and the DC beer world of the past. January 23, 2015

Shining new light on American history

National Museum of American History

American History (After Hours): What the Cluck?

National Museum of American History
How did chicken become America's go-to white meat? Join farmers and Smithsonian historians for a conversation on the past, present, and future of chicken in America. From large-scale chicken production to backyard coops, from food safety to chicken marketing, how has American agriculture changed over time?

Reopening the National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History
After a two-year renovation, the museum reopened to the public on Nov. 21, 2008 with a three-day festival. Take a peek inside the museum for a look at some of the festivities and get a glimpse of the new exhibitions and spaces that await your visit. Museum now open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every day except Dec. 25.

National Museum of American History

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Aerial view of the National Museum of American History following a six inch snowfall.

The Kennedys’ visit to American history

National Museum of American History

American History (After Hours): The French Chef, American-Style

National Museum of American History
What happened after America mastered French cooking? Starting in the late 1960s, food luminaries such as Julia Child and her editor Judith Jones, as well as countless food-loving Americans, began to look away from Europe and toward their own country for inspiration, exploring the rich heritage of American regional cooking with a new sense of appreciation and curiosity. Listen to food history writers Alex Prud'homme (co-author of My Life in France) and Sara Franklin (who recently conducted a life oral history of Jones) as they discuss the renewal of American regional food culture after Julia's debut as The French Chef.

Welcome to the National Museum of American History

National Museum of American History
This video provides an overview of the iconic artifacts, stimulating exhibitions, engaging programs, and other amenities visitors encounter on a visit to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. For more information please visit http://americanhistory.si.edu.

National Museum of American History

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
The north facade of the National Museum of History and Technology, now the National Museum of American History. View is from Constitution Avenue. Fountains are visible in front of the Museum and the Washington Monument in right rear.

Sculpture Outside American History Building

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Sculpture, "Three Red Lines," outside the eastern facade of the National Museum of History and Technology, now the National Museum of American History.

American history must-reads of 2018

National Museum of American History

These are our most fascinating blog posts of 2018, according to our readers.

When FBI agents showed up with a pair of sparkly, red shoes

A single sequin was left at the crime scene. A pair of Ruby Slippers was stolen in Minnesota, then recovered 13 years later. The pair was brought to this museum for close examination by our Ruby Slippers experts.

Remembering a young man who was so much more than his brutal murder

Matthew Shepard was a young, gay man who was killed in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998. His murder made headlines around the world and resulted in an outpouring of grief and anger that people channeled into poetry, songs, movies, a charity foundation, a national Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and at least two plays. We were honored to collect objects from his parents and learn about Matthew.

An acclaimed African American dress designer sewed for fashion—but mostly for joy

Ann Lowe designed this dress for Pauline "Polly" Carver Duxbury for her 1967 debutante ball.

Erupting with flowers, the 1967 debutante gown makes you happy just looking at it. That happiness was Ann Lowe’s goal. Click on this blog post for the beautiful photos, stay for the dramatic story of a disaster that could have ruined a future First Lady’s wedding if not for Lowe's dedication to her work.

When our curator's childhood dreams of cheerleading glory came true

Sparkly stars, white go-go boots, and white shorts. Do you know which team's cheerleading uniforms we collected?

Don’t be shocked when your hist'ry book mentions me—and your money!

He didn't throw away his shot, and Alexander Hamilton ended up on more American money than you may realize.

Donald Duck got drafted in World War II

Poster declaring “You can’t breakfast like a bird and work like a horse” shows a horse whistling and operating a drill while, on the other side of a metal sheet, a duck struggles to keep up.Poster distributed in service of the National Wartime Nutrition Program, around 1943

Familiar Disney characters were pressed into wartime service along with less familiar ones. Ever heard of Fifinella?

Life on the set of M*A*S*H as told by Alan Alda

Easier than memorizing lines, Alan Alda would often operate on a copy of the script so he could read his dialogue.

When Benjamin Franklin and others set the curriculum

A hand drawn baptismal certificate decorated with birds and flowers.This printed and hand-drawn birth and baptismal certificate for a girl named Catharina Waechter, born January 14, 1774, was created by Heinrich Otto in Pennsylvania around 1774. German settlers brought their tradition of decorating documents with German calligraphy to America and continued it as part of maintaining their culture.

What did Franklin think students of immigrant Germans should learn in classrooms in Britain’s North American colonies?

The biergarten was out and homebrewing was in

Without Prohibition, would America have experienced a vibrant tradition of mid- and late-20th-century homebrewing? Probably not.

Clues in coins help us explore the identities of rulers of the past

If you’re in charge, you get to put your face on currency, revealing and concealing aspects of your identity. Our team that works with the National Numismatic Collection discovers LGBTQ stories on some very old coins.

Erin Blasco managed the museum’s social media presence and blog. If you mustache, her toupe blog post of 2018 was about the best hair in the museum’s collection.

Author(s): 
Erin Blasco
Posted Date: 
Monday, December 17, 2018 - 08:00
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American history must-reads of 2018

National Museum of American History

These are our most fascinating blog posts of 2018, according to our readers.

When FBI agents showed up with a pair of sparkly, red shoes

A single sequin was left at the crime scene. A pair of Ruby Slippers was stolen in Minnesota, then recovered 13 years later. The pair was brought to this museum for close examination by our Ruby Slippers experts.

Remembering a young man who was so much more than his brutal murder

Matthew Shepard was a young, gay man who was killed in Laramie, Wyoming, in 1998. His murder made headlines around the world and resulted in an outpouring of grief and anger that people channeled into poetry, songs, movies, a charity foundation, a national Hate Crimes Prevention Act, and at least two plays. We were honored to collect objects from his parents and learn about Matthew.

An acclaimed African American dress designer sewed for fashion—but mostly for joy

Ann Lowe designed this dress for Pauline "Polly" Carver Duxbury for her 1967 debutante ball.

Erupting with flowers, the 1967 debutante gown makes you happy just looking at it. That happiness was Ann Lowe’s goal. Click on this blog post for the beautiful photos, stay for the dramatic story of a disaster that could have ruined a future First Lady’s wedding if not for Lowe's dedication to her work.

When our curator's childhood dreams of cheerleading glory came true

Sparkly stars, white go-go boots, and white shorts. Do you know which team's cheerleading uniforms we collected?

Don’t be shocked when your hist'ry book mentions me—and your money!

He didn't throw away his shot, and Alexander Hamilton ended up on more American money than you may realize.

Donald Duck got drafted in World War II

Poster declaring “You can’t breakfast like a bird and work like a horse” shows a horse whistling and operating a drill while, on the other side of a metal sheet, a duck struggles to keep up.Poster distributed in service of the National Wartime Nutrition Program, around 1943

Familiar Disney characters were pressed into wartime service along with less familiar ones. Ever heard of Fifinella?

Life on the set of M*A*S*H as told by Alan Alda

Easier than memorizing lines, Alan Alda would often operate on a copy of the script so he could read his dialogue.

When Benjamin Franklin and others set the curriculum

A hand drawn baptismal certificate decorated with birds and flowers.This printed and hand-drawn birth and baptismal certificate for a girl named Catharina Waechter, born January 14, 1774, was created by Heinrich Otto in Pennsylvania around 1774. German settlers brought their tradition of decorating documents with German calligraphy to America and continued it as part of maintaining their culture.

What did Franklin think students of immigrant Germans should learn in classrooms in Britain’s North American colonies?

The biergarten was out and homebrewing was in

Without Prohibition, would America have experienced a vibrant tradition of mid- and late-20th-century homebrewing? Probably not.

Clues in coins help us explore the identities of rulers of the past

If you’re in charge, you get to put your face on currency, revealing and concealing aspects of your identity. Our team that works with the National Numismatic Collection discovers LGBTQ stories on some very old coins.

Erin Blasco managed the museum’s social media presence and blog. If you mustache, her toupe blog post of 2018 was about the best hair in the museum’s collection.

Author(s): 
Erin Blasco
Posted Date: 
Monday, December 17, 2018 - 08:00
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Exploring religion in early American history

National Museum of American History

What was the significance of religion in the early history of the United States? In the summer of 2017, we will open a new exhibition titled Religion in Early America. It will feature a blend of important objects, documents, and images that explore religion's role in the formation and early development of the nation. The exhibition will focus on three themes: the diversity of religious traditions in America during this period, the principle of freedom of religion that became a guiding principle in American life, and the growth of religion in the early republic.

These are also some of the themes we will explore in depth during our Religion in Early America Symposium on Friday, March 20, 2015. Register to attend in person or watch live via webcast.

The objects we plan to exhibit will include unique treasures and those of everyday religious practice. They are representative of a different era, but continue to speak to us today. Following are six examples from the Smithsonian's collection that we are considering. The exhibition will also include objects we will borrow from other institutions.

1. This German Bible was presented by President John Quincy Adams to his granddaughter in 1837. It is inscribed with a poem in his hand. Adams was a longtime member of the American Bible Society and served as its vice president.

Bible open to page with a poem

2. The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth Extracted Textually from the Gospels in Greek, Latin, French and English, also known as the Jefferson Bible, was created by Thomas Jefferson around 1820 as an expression of his own broad-minded approach to faith. Working from source books in several languages, Jefferson used a pen knife and glue to craft a condensed version of the New Testament in keeping with the reason-driven spirit of the Enlightenment. "I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know," he wrote in 1819.

Jefferson made no plans to publish this work; it was solely for his own reading and reflection. He knew that his beliefs would offend some religious authorities and be used against him by his political rivals. 
 
The book remained privately held throughout his life. Its existence was only known to a few of his closest circle of friends. The book remained in his family until his great-granddaughter sold the volume to the Smithsonian Institution in 1895. 

Bible with columns of text, open

3. Lucretia Mott was a prominent Quaker, abolitionist, and pioneer of women's rights. She became a Quaker minister in 1821 and led efforts to avoid the use of goods produced through the labor of slaves. In 1848, she organized the Seneca Falls Convention with Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Beige cloak with bonnet

4. This sampler illustrates how creating objects inspired by religion was part of everyday life in the early republic. Stitched in its fabric is the phrase: "Love the Lord and he will be a tender father unto the[e]"

5. Religious ceremonies marked rites of passage for Americans during this era. These included baptism, first communion, marriage, and death. The exhibition will include President George Washington's christening robe, which came to the Smithsonian in 1883.

White robe with red interior turned down in corner

6. Some American Indians used wampum in trade as a form of money, but also in religious ceremonies, and betrothal or marriage agreements. The beads symbolized peace, harmony, and contentment. The exhibition will include wampum from the museum's numismatic collection, as well as other objects related to American Indian religious traditions.

Small white shells on string

David Allison is associate director of the Office of Curatorial Affairs. Peter Manseau is the author of One Nation, Under Gods and guest curator. Our Religion in Early America Symposium on Friday, March 20, 2015, is free and open to the public. Register to attend in person or watch live via webcast.

Author(s): 
David Allison and Peter Manseau
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National Museum of American History

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
Exterior view of the Mall side of the National Museum of American History, July 1, 1982. The view shows how light and shadow are used by the architect to create architectural detail on a starkly modernist facade.

Bookstore of American History Museum

Smithsonian Archives - History Div
The bookstore at the National Museum of American History, as viewed from the exterior of the building (north or Constitution Avenue side). Reflected in the window are the Federal Triangle buildings across the street. A placard reading "Smithsonian Bookstore, A McGraw-Hill Enterprise" is visible through the window.

American History Typecuts

National Museum of American History

African American History

National Museum of African American History and Culture
A black-and-white photograph of a man speaking from a podium during a dinner recognizing Hugh Mulzac for being named a naval captain after 22 years of naval service. Mulzac is seated next to the podium at bottom right.
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