American History Museum@amhistorymuseum

Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Hosts: Amelia & Jordan
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American History Museum

In the 1970s and 1980s, activists used buttons like these to signal their support or opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). The proposed amendment's first section was short enough to fit on a button: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." After the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920, women’s rights advocate Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party quickly transitioned to writing and lobbying for an amendment that would guarantee equal rights for all Americans, regardless of sex.
Although a version of this amendment—the ERA—was introduced at almost every session of Congress, until the 1970s most variations stalled in committees. That decade, Representative Martha Griffiths successfully petitioned to move the amendment to debate before the full Congress. In 1972 the ERA passed both houses of Congress and was sent to the individual states for ratification. Groups on both sides of the issue mobilized to lobby for and against the amendment.
The ERA failed to meet the required number of state ratifications (only obtaining 35 of the necessary 38) by Congress’ deadline of June 30, 1982. In recent years, popular interest in the ERA has revived after two states, Nevada and Illinois, voted to ratify the amendment.
#AmericanHistory #ProtestHistory #PoliticalHistory #WomensHistory #CongressionalHistory #CivilRightsHistory #CivicEngagement #WomensHistoryMonth #BecauseOfHerStory #AmericanDemocracy #NationWeBuildTogether #BeyondTheBallot #19thAmendment #ERA


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American History Museum

Elizabeth Keckley used needle and thread to make beautiful clothing, and a difference. As dressmaker to First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, she designed dresses like this one (pictured here from behind). Before working for Lincoln, Keckley purchased her own freedom from slavery and that of her son. In 1860, she relocated with her family to Washington, D.C., where she quickly gained a reputation as a gifted dressmaker among the city's most prominent families.
Keckley used her profits and her position in society to help others, founding the Contraband Relief Association to assist newly freed people. You can learn more about her through the link in our bio: s.si.edu/Keckley
#BecauseOfHerStory #WomensHistory #WomensHistoryMonth #AfricanAmericanHistory #AmericanHistory #CivilWarHistory #Philanthropy #CivilWar #CostumeHistory #ClothingHistory #BusinessHistory


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American History Museum

If you went to the cosmetics counter in the early 1990s you might see this compact or petition. By placing pledge cards and petitions at makeup counters and branding certain Estée Lauder products with pink ribbon designs, Evelyn Lauder and her colleagues tapped into women’s purchasing power to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
After Evelyn Lauder was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989, she became an advocate for women’s health. In 1992 she and Alexandra Penney, editor of Self magazine, launched a pink ribbon campaign to bring attention to breast cancer. Lauder and Penney drew inspiration from the red ribbon campaign to raise awareness of AIDS.
Today, objects from those early campaigns and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation’s continued work joined our medical history and philanthropy collection. Objects from today’s donation will go on view tomorrow in our updated Giving in America case.
Click on the link in the bio to learn more about this donation and Evelyn Lauder’s story.
#BecauseOfHerStory #WomensHistory #WomensHistoryMonth #AmericanHistory #HistMed #MedSci #HistStem #BusinessHistory #philanthropy #AmericanGiving #MedicalHistory #1990s


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American History Museum

In the early 1900s, increasingly severe polio outbreaks in the United States alarmed many. The National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, renamed the March of Dimes, was founded in 1938 to combat polio.
A vaccine discovered in 1955 and widespread vaccination programs eliminated the disease in the United States in 1979. Amanda Moniz, the David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy, reflects on the history of the March of Dimes in the nation and in her own family.
Our staff has been hard at work updating our “Giving in America” display to explore the history of giving and health. The case opens tomorrow, but this video is a sneak peek of one of the stories you will see represented there.
The Philanthropy Initiative is made possible by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and David M. Rubenstein, with additional support by the Fidelity Charitable Trustees' Initiative, a grantmaking program of Fidelity Charitable.
#AmericanGiving #Philanthropy #HistMed #HistStem #MedicalHistory #MedSci

Photos courtesy of the March of Dimes and the Amanda Moniz Family Archive.


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American History Museum

This "Solar System" quilt was made by Ellen Harding Baker of Cedar County, Iowa, in 1876. We think it's ... out of this world. 😎 🚀
Baker used the quilt as a visual aid for lectures she gave on astronomy. According to the New York Times, the quilt was "seven years in making" and Baker "went to Chicago to view the comet and sun spots through the telescope that she might be very accurate." 🔭
Although her quilt was unusual, Baker's passion for science and outer space was not; astronomy was considered an "acceptable" interest for women in the 1800s. Despite the hurdles they faced, women secured a place for themselves in the field.
Spot the comet in Baker's quilt? Follow the link in our bio to learn about Maria Mitchell, a pathbreaking astronomer who discovered a comet at the age of 29: s.si.edu/Mitchell
#AmericanHistory #WomensHistory #IowaHistory
#WomensHistoryMonth #BecauseOfHerStory
#WomenOfSTEM #HistSTEM #AstronomyHistory
#TextileHistory #Textiles #QuiltHistory #Quilts #IGQuiltFest #QuiltsOfInstagram.


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American History Museum

These shoes and stomp box belonged to Martha Gonzalez, lead singer of Quetzal, a Mexican American rock band from Los Angeles, California. 🎶 Music of the California borderlands mixes the dynamic sounds of R&B and salsa with traditional rhythms from across the globe. The plywood stomp box, called a "tarima," has roots in both African and Mexican musical traditions. It's used like a drum—with performers creating rhythms by tap dancing upon it. Similarly, these shoes, known as "zapateados," are worn for Mexican dances that involve stamping and tapping feet against the ground to create rhythm. Purchased in Veracruz, Mexico, Gonzalez's shoes have a unique square toe, which she felt was better for dancing. Swipe to take a closer look at Gonzalez's zapateados and see a photo of her performing. 💃 [📸: Courtesy of Jewelz Beelou Channita] #AmericanHistory #WomensHistory #WomensHistoryMonth #BecauseOfHerStory #MusicHistory #DanceHistory #YearOfMusic #LatinxHistory #LAHistory #CaliforniaHistory #Dance #ManyVoices #NationWeBuildTogether


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American History Museum

This khaki uniform was controversial in the 1910s. The dress was the uniform of the Girl Scouts of America, who were founded this week (March 12) in 1912.
Originally, the group called themselves the Girl Guides of America. A year later, in 1913, they changed their name to the Girl Scouts of America. The name change concerned James E. West, the Chief Boy Scout Executive, as did the khaki uniforms which West found “mannish” and were very similar to the military-inspired khaki uniforms the Boy Scouts wore.
West expressed his concern … frequently. He even brought legal challenges against the Girl Scouts for using the term “scout.” The Girl Scouts’ detractors felt that the all-girl group’s similarity to the Boy Scouts “trivialized” the all-boy group. Critics also worried about girls becoming “tomboys” who would reject the more socially acceptable roles for women in the domestic sphere—homemaker, wife, mother.
Others thought that the Girls Scouts’ offering training for things like automobiling and civics was exactly what they should be doing. One national Girl Scouts board member wrote, “Now that [the right to vote] has been extended to women of this state . . . I believe there is no better way for [children] to learn to become good citizens.” During those first decades of American scouting, the tension between the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts was never truly resolved. However, several elements collaborated to blunt the anti-Girl Scout criticism. Women’s suffrage gained momentum and Girl Scouts demonstrated effective service on the home front during the First World War. In the mid-1920s, the group changed its uniforms to green, moving away from the more militaristic khaki. Check out the link in our bio to learn more.
#AmericanHistory #WomensHistory #WomensHistoryMonth #BecauseOfHerStory #CostumeHistory #TextileHistory #ChildhoodHistory #ChildHist


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American History Museum

This may seem like an ordinary watch, but it was specially designed to allow the user to tell time by touch—making it the perfect gift for Helen Keller.
The studs around the outside of the case correspond to the hours on the watch’s dial. On the back of the case there is a revolving hand. It’s location corresponds to the time, allowing the user to feel the time.
This touch-watch was originally owned by a John Hitz, a retired diplomat. Hitz could have used the watch to discretely check the time in meetings.
In 1892, Hitz gave the watch to Helen Keller, who was 12 years old at the time.
Keller prized the watch and used it her entire life. Once, in 1952, Keller accidentally left the watch behind in a New York City taxi. With ads in newspaper lost-and-found columns and the help of the head of the city's pawnbrokers, she recovered her prized possession from a hock shop. Today it is part of our collection.
#BecauseOfHerStory #WomensHistory #WomensHistoryMonth #AccessiblityHistory #DisabilityHistory #DisHist #AmericanHistory #Horology


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American History Museum

We’re crazy for Patsy Cline’s pink costume. Her mother made Cline this Western-style performance outfit, featuring record-shaped patches stitched with the titles of Cline's records.
Cline began singing with gospel and country bands as a teenager in Virginia. With her 1957 breakout hit "Walkin' after Midnight," she became one of the first female country vocalist to cross over to the pop charts. In 1960, Cline achieved her childhood dream of joining the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. Three years later, she died in a plane crash on March 5, 1963.
#SmithsonianMusic #MusicHistory #WomensHistory #AmericanHistory #EntertainmentHistory #BecauseOfHerStory #CostumeHistory #Textiles #VintageClothing


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American History Museum

What would you wear to a march? In 1913, Jennie Griswold donned this blue and yellow cape before joining a suffrage march in Washington, D.C. 🏛
On March 3, 1913, more than 5,000 women marched up Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., demanding the right to vote. Organized by Alice Paul and National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), the march was timed to maximize public attention. Organizers scheduled it to take place just one day before Woodrow Wilson's presidential inauguration, when the nation's capital would already be crowded with spectators and journalists. Swipe to see postcards with images from the march. 📸
The 1913 march sparked heated debates, both internally within the woman suffrage movement and externally with American society at large. In the weeks before the protest, some white suffragists called on African American delegates to march in a separate, segregated section. Black activists like Ida B. Wells-Barnett rejected these demands and marched alongside their white colleagues.
On the day of the march, more than 10,000 spectators crowded the marchers' parade route. Many were openly hostile, shouting insults and crowding the streets. Florence Hedges, a scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture who participated in the march, later wrote in a letter that the police's inability or unwillingness to control the spectators gave ". . .the hoodlums which are always to be found in a crowd, an opportunity to do anything they really liked." Some of her companions "could feel the hot breath of the people—often whiskey-laden—in their faces." 🖋️ You can follow the link in our bio to take a closer look at Hedges's letter: s.si.edu/2MxIUXU
#AmericanHistory #WomensHistory #DCHistory #VoteHistory #CivilRightsHistory #Civics #CivicEngagement
#BecauseOfHerStory #InternationalWomensDay #WomensDay #WomensHistoryMonth
#BeyondTheBallot #AmericanDemocracy #NationWeBuildTogether


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American History Museum

This sign, indicating you were an authorized agent with the Madam C.J. Walker Company, was also a sign of freedom and opportunity for many African American women.
Franchises with the Walker beauty company allowed thousands of black women to launch their own businesses, in spite of restrictive access to bank loans and more during segregation.
Madam CJ Walker was a self-made millionaire through her hair-care company. Not only was Walker’s company a source of opportunity for many African American women, Walker’s gave philanthropically to organizations that were typically founded by or focused on serving African Americans.
Before she was a millionaire, Madam C. J. Walker was an orphan, child laborer, teenaged wife and mother, young widow, and homeless migrant. She knew the struggles of being poor, black, and female in the Jim Crow South. So when she had money, she knew the causes she wanted to address. To learn more, click the link in our bio.
#AmerianHistory #WomensHistory #BecauseOfHerStory #WomensHistoryMonth #AfricanAmericanHistory #BlackHistory #philanthropy #giving #BusinessHistory #LaborHistory #CivilRightsHistory [📷: Scurlock Studio Records, Archives Center]


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American History Museum

We’re adding another pair of iconic red shoes to our collection: these boots worn by Billy Porter in the Broadway production of Kinky Boots.
The Broadway production of “Kinky Boots” is one of the most popular and acclaimed musicals of the 21st century, having won six Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Original Score (by Cyndi Lauper), and Best Choreography. “We are so honored that our beautiful red boots and the message of our show will be a highlighted part of the Smithsonian’s permanent culture collection, representing our themes of love and acceptance to visitors from all over the world,” said the show’s producer Daryl Roth.
The objects from Kinky Boots will not be immediately on view.
#EntertainmentHistory #AmericanHistory #CostumeHistory #BroadwayHistory #KinkyBoots #AmericanHistory #LGBTQHistory 📷: @bruglikas for @kinkybootsbway


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