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Protect Our Families

National Museum of American History

Homophobia Hurts Families

National Museum of American History

Protect Our Families

National Museum of American History

Families Fighting Prostrate Cancer

National Museum of American History

Favorite Families of TV

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Arrangement of families of birds

Smithsonian Libraries

Health Care for Working Families

National Museum of American History

Drama Erupts Between Two Elephant Families

Smithsonian Channel
Elephant families clash over access to the best spot at the watering hole. From the Show: Elephant King http://bit.ly/2yVpogv

Stamp and Flight Families: Part I

National Postal Museum
Researching a book as eclectic as Stamp of the Century gives one a good, friendly reason to look up interesting...

Prayers for the Use of Families

National Museum of American History
William Jay’s Prayers for the Use of Families, or the Domestic Minister’s Assistant was published by Henry Whipple of Salem, Massachusetts in 1822. The book has about 100 prayers for every day of the week and times of the day, along with specific prayers for particular persons on special occasions, such as a friend at sea or the return of a friend from sea. The Copp Collection contains about 150 books of early American imprint and shows a wide range of reading matter typical of a New England Puritan family living in a port town. Literacy was expected of many New Englanders, as Puritan doctrine required everyone to read the Bible. The abundance of multiple Bibles, psalms, hymnodies, sermons, and morality tales reflects the Copp’s religious beliefs. Other highlights of the library include the works of Shakespeare, almanacs, historical and political texts, and travel narratives. The Copp Collection contains a variety of household objects that the Copp family of Connecticut used from around 1700 until the mid-1800s. Part of the Puritan Great Migration from England to Boston, the family eventually made their home in New London County, Connecticut, where their textiles, clothes, utensils, ceramics, books, bibles, and letters provide a vivid picture of daily life. More of the collection from the Division of Home and Community Life can be viewed by searching accession number 28810.

Prayers and Offices of Devotion for Families

National Museum of American History
Benjamin Jenks’ Prayers and Offices of Devotion for Families was published by Webster and Skinner of Albany, New York in 1806. The book has about 100 prayers for every day of the week and times of the day, along with specific prayers for particular persons on special occasions. The Copp Collection contains about 150 books of early American imprint and shows a wide range of reading matter typical of a New England Puritan family living in a port town. Literacy was expected of many New Englanders, as Puritan doctrine required everyone to read the Bible. The abundance of multiple Bibles, psalms, hymnodies, sermons, and morality tales reflects the Copp’s religious beliefs. Other highlights of the library include the works of Shakespeare, almanacs, historical and political texts, and travel narratives. The Copp Collection contains a variety of household objects that the Copp family of Connecticut used from around 1700 until the mid-1800s. Part of the Puritan Great Migration from England to Boston, the family eventually made their home in New London County, Connecticut, where their textiles, clothes, utensils, ceramics, books, bibles, and letters provide a vivid picture of daily life. More of the collection from the Division of Home and Community Life can be viewed by searching accession number 28810.

Prayers and Offices of Devotion for Families

National Museum of American History
Benjamin Jenks’ Prayers and Offices of Devotion for Families was published by Webster and Skinner of Albany, New York in 1811. The book has about 100 prayers for every day of the week and times of the day, along with specific prayers for particular persons on special occasions. The Copp Collection contains about 150 books of early American imprint and shows a wide range of reading matter typical of a New England Puritan family living in a port town. Literacy was expected of many New Englanders, as Puritan doctrine required everyone to read the Bible. The abundance of multiple Bibles, psalms, hymnodies, sermons, and morality tales reflects the Copp’s religious beliefs. Other highlights of the library include the works of Shakespeare, almanacs, historical and political texts, and travel narratives. The Copp Collection contains a variety of household objects that the Copp family of Connecticut used from around 1700 until the mid-1800s. Part of the Puritan Great Migration from England to Boston, the family eventually made their home in New London County, Connecticut, where their textiles, clothes, utensils, ceramics, books, bibles, and letters provide a vivid picture of daily life. More of the collection from the Division of Home and Community Life can be viewed by searching accession number 28810.

The families and genera of bats

Smithsonian Libraries

1825 - 1850 Gardner/Garner Families Appliqued Quilt

National Museum of American History
“I am the owner of an antique quilt made back when American settlers first landed which was almost 200 years ago . . .” wrote Eva A. Warren, when this quilt was donated to the Collection in 1970. Eva’s grandmother, Flora Garner, was born about 1800 as a slave on the Gardner plantation. At a later date one of the Gardeners (Elizabeth) left all her property to her ex-slaves and their families. The arrangement of “Princess Feather” plumes emanating from a star, made from one printed fabric, is appliqued on the 40-inch center panel. The same printed fabric was used to frame the center; a 6-inch inner border separated by an 8 ½-inch white border appliqued with fruit and flowers cut from the printed fabric, and, an outer 3 ½” border. It is quilted, 7 stitches per inch, and bound with a straight strip of white cotton. The quilt exemplifies an ingenious use of one printed fabric appliqued to a white ground to create an overall cohesive design. Further information was provided by the donor in regard to the family history. “They planted cotton, but they had no cotton gins to make cloth, so they had to make the cloth they needed by hand. The cotton was picked from the seed by fingers and they had a flax wheel and a spinning wheel, so they made cloth and put into the cloth lovely colors. The household linen was very pretty and in abundance.” Olive Martin Gardner was born in 1780 and died on July 29, 1856. Her daughter was Elizabeth Gardener. When Elizabeth died she left her estate to her ex-slaves and their families. One of them, Flora Garner, was the donor’s grandmother. Possibly it was she who made the quilt. Flora’s daughter, Emma Lilly, married Bill Schenck and it was their daughter, Eva Alice born in 1898, who donated the quilt. Eva Alice Warren wrote a book ( Watch What is Lacking in Negro Progress Carlton Press, 1973) that contains information about the Schenck and Gardner/Garner families as well as about her own life growing up in North Carolina. The quilt was made on the Gardner/Garner family plantation in Shelby, North Carolina. The family’s history in the area goes back to the late 18th century. This early 19th century quilt too, has a long history.

Documenting Students' Own Lives, Families and Communities

Smithsonian Education
Staff and youth from AS220 will describe how we've wrapped our collective head around the Will To Adorn project and how it is evolving in our community space. Several youth will demonstrate clips of their work and talk about what they've learned from participating. We'll review some of the specific technical skill gains we've seen, as well as soft skills that have emerged through interactions with field "subjects." This session is a case study feature of "The Will to Adorn" conference series, hosted by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Presented by: Anne Kugler, AS220 Youth Ryan Dwyer, AS220 Youth Original Airdate: December 11, 2013 You can stay connected with the Smithsonian's upcoming online events and view a full collection of past sessions on a variety of topics.: http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/educators/events/online_events.html

Working WOmen Vote / Working Families for Gore

National Museum of American History

Working Women Vote / Working Families for Gore

National Museum of American History

How first families have memorialized and mourned

National Museum of American History

Just in time for Halloween, your favorite collections managers from the Division of Political History bring you a new blog series: "Death in the Presidential Collections." The division has some pretty interesting things connected to presidents who have died and presidents who were killed in office. There are many ways to discuss the objects surrounding a president's death, and in this series we will explore why these objects still hold so much meaning for us.

Collage of four objects tied to mourning in the musuem's colllctions.

Today's post discusses mourning clothing and jewelry worn by first ladies. There are many ways to mourn. One custom that stretches back centuries is wearing black to funerals. Yet other traditions surrounding mourning clothing have changed throughout the years. During the Victorian period, mourners wore black longer than just the day of the funeral. Mourning among the upper and upper-middle class would last a minimum of two years! In what was called "first mourning," a woman mourner wore black crepe. As the years passed, she could begin wearing clothing made with less crepe and add other fabrics and trim. Colors during the last half year or so included gray, violet, purple, mauve, and white. Yes, during the Victorian period white was an acceptable color for mourning. There are several examples of first ladies in mourning in the Political History collection.

Jane Pierce (1806–1863) never wanted to be a political wife. However, her husband, Franklin, was a politician and Jane was first lady from 1853 to 1857. Jane Pierce doted on her son Benny, her only child to survive infancy. Tragically, he was killed in a train accident shortly before Franklin Pierce's inauguration. Already prone to melancholy and depression, and now with her mental state in a more precarious situation, Jane Pierce spent the rest of her life in mourning.

Jane Pierce's black tulle dressed posed on a mannequin.

During the second year of mourning jewelry was permitted, onyx and jet being the most frequently worn. In the early to mid-1800s lockets and brooches containing hair became a popular style of mourning jewelry in the United States. A piece of jewelry with hair was considered a token of mourning and remembrance. Godey's Lady's Book, a popular magazine for women in the 19th century, contained material to entertain and inform women—think Women's Day, Vanity Fair, and Cosmopolitan all in one magazine. Godey's offered a mail-in option to purchase hair jewelry, or a DIY method, which is still popular today. Thanks, Pinterest!

Gold locket with black onyx stones along its border and brown hair embedded in the center under glass.

In the Political History collection, we have several pieces of mourning jewelry, including lockets belonging to Jane Pierce and to fellow first lady Julia Grant. It was not recorded whose hair is in the locket that belonged to Jane Pierce, but we can speculate that it was from her beloved son, Benny. The locket attributed to the Grant family was worn at Ulysses Grant’s funeral service. The hair in the locket is most likely his.

Front and back photos of a mourning locket.

In the collection we also have jewelry that did not contain hair. There is onyx mourning jewelry that belonged to Mary Lincoln (1818–1882, first lady 1861–1865). Her lapel watch, set in black onyx, was the timepiece she wore for the rest of her life. In 1862 the Lincolns’ third son, Willie, died of typhoid fever. While Abraham coped with the loss of Willie, Mary was overtly distraught. After the assassination of her husband, Mary was overcome with grief. She remained in mourning until her death—she only came out of mourning once, upon the request of her youngest son, Tad, for his birthday.

Black onyx and gold lapel watch.

While modern mourning traditions have evolved and women are no longer in mourning for extensive periods of time, and keeping the hair of a loved one in a locket is a bit depressing, the idea of outward symbols of grief is not a bad one. It is an obvious sign that you are lamenting the loss of a loved one, and a way to let others know you are experiencing grief without having to talk about it. We put plywood storks in the front yard announcing the birth of a child, but we don’t put a black wreath on the door to announce the death of a family member. If we actively expressed our mourning, then perhaps we would receive a bit of understanding if we have a breakdown while in line for coffee.

Stay tuned for our next post in the series. We've divided our mourning objects into five categories: First Families; Last Moments Preserved; Commemorations, Stationery, and Floral Arrangements; Souvenirs; and Assassinations.

Sara Murphy is a museum specialist and collections manager in the Division of Political History.

Posted Date: 
Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 10:30
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Sant Ocean Hall for Kids and Families

SI Center for Learning and Digital Access
This webpage provides links to a family guide of the Ocean Hall, online activities, and events at the National Museum of Natural History.

family record

National Museum of American History

family tree

National Museum of American History

Smith family portrait

Archives of American Art
1 negative : glass ; 14 x 12 cm.

John Smith seated on left. Above him is daughter Christine Smith Peto.
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