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March 7, 2021

Smithsonian

How Black Women Brought Liberty to Washington in the 1800s

Smithsonian
A city of monuments and iconic government buildings and the capital of a global superpower, Washington, D.C. is also a city of people. Originally a 100-square-mile diamond carved out of the southern states of Maryland and Virginia, Washington has been inseparably tied to the African-American experience from its inception, starting......

How the Politics of Race Played Out During the 1793 Yellow Fever Epidemic

Smithsonian
It was 1793, and yellow fever was running rampant through Philadelphia. The city was the nation’s biggest at the time, the seat of the federal government and home to the largest population of free blacks in America. Foreigners were to blame, said one political faction, charging that immigrants were bringing......

Did a Viking Woman Named Gudrid Really Travel to North America in 1000 A.D.?

Smithsonian
More than 1,000 years ago, a woman named Gudrid sailed off the edge of the map with her husband and a small crew, landing in what the Vikings called Vinland and what is now Canada. She lived in and explored Newfoundland and the surrounding environs for three years, bearing a......

Theodore Roosevelt’s North Dakota and 27 Other Smithsonian Programs Streaming in March

Smithsonian
Smithsonian Voices Smithsonian Associates Theodore Roosevelt’s North Dakota and 27 Other Smithsonian Programs Streaming in March February 23rd, 2021, 10:46AM / BY Lauren Lyons Theodore Roosevelt scholar and historian Clay Jenkinson tells the story of Roosevelt’s beloved west and the national park that bears his name in a Smithsonian Associates......

America’s Original Gangster Couple, Trailblazing Women Explorers and Other New Books to Read

Smithsonian
At the height of the Roaring Twenties, the Whittemore Gang targeted banks and jewelry stores across the East Coast, stealing upward of $1 million in diamonds and precious gems (around $15 million today). Led by young couple Richard and Margaret Whittemore, known respectively as “the Candy Kid” and “Tiger Girl,”......

Part of Being a Domestic Goddess in 17th Century Europe Was Making Medicines

Smithsonian
Hannah Woolley is often called the Martha Stewart of the 17th century, but a more apt comparison might be wellness guru Gwyneth Paltrow, founder of the lifestyle brand Goop. That’s because Woolley, author of the first books on household management and cookery published in English, didn’t just provide recipes for......

How the Smithsonian Can Help African American Families Research Their Ancestors

Smithsonian
One afternoon at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, a visitor was reading out loud the names of family members he discovered in a historical record. On the other side of the museum’s Robert Frederick Smith Explore Your Family History Center, another visitor’s ears perked up.......

America’s First Black Physician Sought to Heal a Nation’s Persistent Illness

Smithsonian
James McCune Smith was not just any physician. He was the first African American to earn a medical degree, educated at the University of Glasgow in the 1830s, when no American university would admit him. For this groundbreaking achievement alone, Smith warrants greater appreciation. But Smith was also one of......

In a Covid-Affected Washington D.C. Neighborhood, Black History Is Reinterpreted on a City Block

Smithsonian
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | Feb. 26, 2021, 9 a.m. When the city isn’t operating under pandemic restrictions, the block that unifies Meade and 49th Streets in northeast Washington, D.C. is typically vibrant with activity. On one end, the Deanwood Community Center houses a public library, indoor pool and multipurpose spaces; on the......

A Brief History of the Invention of the Home Security Alarm

Smithsonian
Marie Van Brittan Brown, an African American nurse living in Jamaica, Queens in the 1960s, was working odd shifts, as was her husband, Albert, an electronics technician. When she arrived home late, she sometimes felt afraid. Serious crimes in Queens jumped nearly 32 percent from 1960 to 1965, and police......

The Fever That Struck New York

Smithsonian
Word of the disease in New York City came “from every quarter.” The place was “besieged.” Thousands fled to the countryside—so many that transportation became impossible to find. Others huddled inside their homes. Many died. Hospitals were overrun, and nurses and doctors were among the earliest to succumb. People who......

The Tragic Irony of the U.S. Capitol’s Peace Monument

Smithsonian
After the storming of Congress in early January, some rioters were apparently surprised to learn that the mere “traffic circle” where they were being arrested was, in fact, the Peace Monument, and part of U.S. Capitol grounds. Mostly unnoticed on ordinary days, the ghostly, eroded statue at the end of......

Looking Back at the Legacy of ‘The Great White Hope’ and Boxer Jack Johnson

Smithsonian
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | Feb. 25, 2021, 8 a.m. “There’s nothing you need to make up about Jack Johnson.” Documentarian Ken Burns would know. His 2005 series “Unforgivable Blackness,” based on the book of the same name by historian Geoffrey C. Ward, brought the true story of the life and career of......

Black Soldiers Played an Undeniable but Largely Unheralded Role in Founding the United States

Smithsonian
Just after dawn on Christmas Day 2020, Clarence Snead Jr., received a phone call with harrowing news: The Prince Hall Masonic Lodge in Providence, Rhode Island, was ablaze. Snead, whose nickname is “Grand” (for “Most Worshipful Grand Master”), rushed the half-hour drive to the lodge on Eddy Street and found......

The Uphill Battle to Stop Peru From Building a New Airport Near Machu Picchu

Smithsonian
SMITHSONIANMAG.COM | Feb. 24, 2021, 12:17 p.m. Sitting on the cold ground near a pile of gravel, a stack of papers in her lap and pen in hand, Rocío Cjuiro Mescco listened and took notes as about ten of her neighbors conversed in a mix of Spanish and Quechua, an......

The Great Canadian Polio Vaccine Heist of 1959

Smithsonian
It was the summer of 1959, when the last great epidemic of poliomyelitis swept across Canada. Québec saw the most cases that year, with the newspapers reporting over a thousand cases and 88 deaths. Although the health authorities in Montréal warned the public about the seriousness of the summer epidemic,......

Will We Ever Send Humans to Venus?

Smithsonian
Q: We’ve successfully sent humans to the Moon, and there’s talk of sending people to Mars. How about Venus? —Alan E. Wright | Salt Lake City Landing on Venus is challenging enough for robotic missions, says Bruce Campbell, a senior scientist at the National Air and Space Museum. The temperature......

The Once-Classified Tale of Juanita Moody: The Women Who Helped Avert a Nuclear War

Smithsonian
On the morning of Sunday, October 14, 1962, Juanita Moody exited the headquarters of the National Security Agency, at Fort Meade, Maryland, and walked the short distance to her car, parked in one of the front-row spaces reserved for top leadership. The sky was a crystalline blue, “a most beautiful......

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