History

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Tillie Black Bear accepts congratulations from President Bill Clinton after receiving the Eleanor Roosevelt Human Rights Award in December 2000.

Women Who Shaped History

Tillie Black Bear Was the Grandmother of the Anti-Domestic Violence Movement

The Lakota advocate helped thousands of domestic abuse survivors, Native and non-Native alike

Helen Gibson once remarked, “I certainly do get angry when I hear someone say, ‘I bet she didn’t do that herself.’”

Women Who Shaped History

Hollywood's First Professional Stuntwoman Jumped From Planes and Swung Onto Trains

Dubbed "the most daring actress in pictures," Helen Gibson rose to fame in the 1910s

Now available is the Biography of a Phantom: A Robert Johnson Blues Odyssey by Robert "Mack" McCormick (above center with Spider Kilpatrick, c. 1960), and this summer, the much-anticipated book is complemented by an exhibit at the National Museum of American History, a box CD set from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and a concert celebration at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall.

Legendary Bluesman Robert Johnson Had Demons. So Did His Biographer

The long-awaited “Biography of a Phantom” unravels some of the mystery and intrigue

Of the roughly 750 First Folios printed, at least 235 known copies survive today.

Without the First Folio, Half of Shakespeare's Plays Would Have Been Lost to History

The 400-year-old text presented the Bard's plays as serious literature, muddling the boundaries between popular culture and high art

Peter J. Ortiz receives the first of the two Navy Crosses he was awarded for extraordinary heroism during World War II.

The American Spy Who Surrendered to the Nazis to Save Civilians

In 1944, Pierre Julien Ortiz parachuted into occupied France, where the Gestapo offered a reward of half a million francs for his capture

Americans will have a few extra days to file their taxes this year.

Why Is Tax Day in April?

These are the reasons behind the timing of many Americans' least favorite holiday

The heist seemed like a mystery that would never be solved—until a deathbed confession by a career criminal led to the recovery of almost all of the missing timepieces.

The Time Thief Who Stole 106 Rare Clocks in a Daring Heist

Authorities eventually recovered 96 of the lost timepieces, including a $30 million watch commissioned for Marie Antoinette

Darcelle XV, Portland, Oregon, 2019

LGBTQ+ Pride

The 92-Year-Old Queen Who Shaped the History and Future of Drag

Darcelle XV, the world’s oldest performing drag queen, died in March, but her spirit will live on

A hand-colored 1892 print of the Battle of Fort Pillow

At Fort Pillow, Confederates Massacred Black Soldiers After They Surrendered

Targeted even when unarmed, around 70 percent of the Black Union troops who fought in the 1864 battle died as a result of the clash

Tens of thousands of people in the United States may be connected to this album, which museum officials say offers an "unprecedented opportunity for people of mixed heritage, especially, to access never-before-seen ancestral portraits."

Find Out If Your Ancestor Is Among These 19th-Century Silhouettes in This Newly Digitized Collection

The itinerant artist William Bache’s portraits are contaminated by arsenic, but now the National Portrait Gallery offers easy access

Julius and Leni Löwin, a Jewish couple who met in Oberstdorf, with World War I hero Ernst Jünger

How the Nazi Regime Upended the Lives of These Bavarian Villagers

A new book draws on long-overlooked sources to chronicle how Oberstdorf's residents navigated the rise—and dictatorship—of Adolf Hitler

In 1804, jurors in New Jersey indicted Vice President Aaron Burr for killing Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Burr’s friends persuaded state officials to drop the charges, but their success had nothing to do with any immunity that Burr enjoyed as an executive officer.

What the Nation's Founders Said About the Indictment of a Former President

Alexander Hamilton wrote that a commander in chief removed from office would be "liable to prosecution and punishment"

Monique Bitu Bingi was taken from her family as a girl and placed with nuns at the Katende mission (she's pictured on the lower left in the photograph). The telegram announces the arrival of more children at the mission.

The Youngest Victims of Belgium's African Rule Are Still Seeking Justice, Decades Later

Colonialism's brutal legacy, including the European nation's policy of forcing mixed-race children into orphanages, is still keenly felt today

The analysis focused on 67 manillas from five shipwrecks off the coasts of Spain, Ghana, the United States and England. The largest study of manillas to date, the project aimed to use lead isotope analysis to pinpoint where the bracelets were produced. 

New Research

What Shipwrecks Reveal About the Origins of the Benin Bronzes

A new study traces the metal used to craft the brass sculptures to manilla bracelets produced in Germany and used as currency in the slave trade

“It could take you a lifetime, or several lifetimes, to learn the history here,” says one member of the abbey staff. Left, the West Towers, completed in 1745.

The Grand History of Westminster Abbey

The church’s many chambers and crypts hold the story of Britain’s past, present and future

Two panels from Last on His Feet, depicting boxers Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries

A New Graphic Novel Takes Readers Inside the Fight of the Century

The pages highlight the dramatic, racially charged match between Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries

Theodore Roosevelt, right, and Cândido Rondon, second from right, led the fateful mission to map an uncharted waterway and document natural wonders.

Teddy Roosevelt’s Perilous Expedition on the Amazon

The dangerous—yet victorious—trip wouldn’t have been possible without Cândido Rondon, an icon of Brazilian history

Engineer Martin Cooper made the world's first cellphone call on April 3, 1973, using a Motorola DynaTAC.

From 'the Brick' to the iPhone, the Cellphone Celebrates 50 Years

As the technology turns 50, science fiction might hint at the cellphone's next chapter

A vintage promotional photograph commissioned and approved by Redfeather around 1915 is now held in the collections of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

The Stars Are Aligned at the National Museum of American History

The Forgotten History of Tsianina Redfeather, the Beloved American Indian Opera Singer

A portrait of the performer debuts in the exhibition “Entertainment Nation”

Since its debut in 1974, Dungeons & Dragons has only grown in popularity. No longer a niche game, it’s been played by more than 50 million people to date.

14 Fun Facts About Dungeons & Dragons

Before watching the new movie adaptation, here's what you need to know about the history of the fantasy role-playing game