Photo Tour of the National Museum of American History

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Peek Inside the Smithsonian American History Museum

A family views the Star Spangled Banner at the National Museum of American History
The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

The National Museum of American History collects and presents artifacts that highlight the social, political, cultural and military history of America. The museum includes spectacular galleries to showcase the presentation of the original Star-Spangled Banner, the White House copy of President Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, Thomas Jefferson's Bible and much more.

The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is located on the National Mall and is one of Washington DC's most popular attractions. Enjoy your visit and discover your own favorite historical artifacts. 

02 of 20

George Washington's Uniform

A uniform worn by George Washington during the American Revolution
Smithsonian Institution

This uniform, on display in The American Presidency gallery at the National Museum of American History, was worn by George Washington during the American Revolution.

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Lincoln's Top Hat

The top hat worn by Abraham Lincoln the night he was shot
Smithsonian Institution

Objects owned by or associated with Abraham Lincoln quickly became relics, reminding Americans of Lincoln's greatness and challenging them to keep his ideals alive. One of the Smithsonian Institution's most treasured icons is this top hat, worn by Lincoln to Ford's Theatre on the night of his assassination.

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FDR's Fireside Chat Microphone

The NBC microphone used by President Franklin Roosevelt during his Fireside Chats
The National Museum of American History

This National Broadcasting Company microphone was used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to broadcast radio addresses, known as fireside chats. Through times of crisis such as the Great Depression and World War II, Roosevelt broadcast more than 30 fireside chats between 1933 and 1944 and developed an intimate, reassuring rapport with the American people that helped build confidence in his leadership. In his first broadcast on March 12, 1933, Roosevelt explained his plan to deal with the banking crisis and asked for the public's support.

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05 of 20

Thomas Jefferson Bible

Thomas Jefferson's Bible, circa around 1820
The National Museum of American History

Near the end of his life, Thomas Jefferson clipped verses from the New Testament to create this work: The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth. Reflecting Jefferson’s deist beliefs, the book excludes references to miracles and focuses on the moral teachings of Jesus.

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Dorothy's Ruby Slippers

The ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland during the filming of the Wizard of Oz
Anna Fox / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Ruby slippers worn by Dorothy in the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz are a favorite ​artifact on display at the National Museum of American History.

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Kodak Camera, 1888

A Kodak Camera, circa 1888
The National Museum of American History

Unlike earlier cameras that used a glass-plate negative for each exposure, this original Kodak camera, introduced by George Eastman, came preloaded with a 100-exposure roll of flexible film. After finishing the roll, the consumer mailed the camera back to the factory to have the prints made.

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Muhammad Ali's Gloves

Muhammad Ali's boxing gloves, circa around 1975
The National Museum of American History

Prizefighter Muhammad Ali, The Greatest, wore these Everlast gloves while defending the second of his three world heavyweight championships. They are on display in the exhibit American Stories at the National Museum of American History.

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09 of 20

Morse-Vail Telegraph Key

A Morse-Vail Telegraph Key, circa 1844-1845
Te National Museum of American History

This key, believed to be from the first American telegraph line, was built by Alfred Vail as an improvement on Samuel Morse’s original transmitter. Vail helped Morse develop a practical system for sending and receiving coded electrical signals over a wire, which was successfully demonstrated in 1844.

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Duke Ellington Score

A handwritten Duke Ellington Score, circa around 1932-1942
The National Museum of American History

In scoring music for his famous jazz orchestra, Duke Ellington wrote for individuals, not instruments. This “Mood Indigo” page features music for his trombone section: Joe “Tricky Sam” Nanton, Lawrence Brown and Juan Tizol.

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Baseball Autographed by Babe Ruth

A baseball signed by Babe Ruth
The Smithsonian Institution

A baseball autographed by Babe Ruth, 1926 ​is on display at the National Museum of American History.

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Dizzy Gillespie's Trumpet

Dizzy Gillespie's Trumpet, circa 1972
The National Museum of American History

Modern-jazz virtuoso Dizzy Gillespie played this customized King “Silver Flair” trumpet from 1972 to 1985. He adopted the signature angled design in 1954, after someone accidentally bent his horn and he discovered he liked the sound that resulted.

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13 of 20

Huey 65-10091

A Huey 65-10091 helicopter
The Smithsonian Institution

The Huey 65-10091 was manufactured by Bell Helicopter in 1965 for the U.S. Army and deployed to Vietnam in 1966. It served with the 173rd Assault Helicopter Company, known as “The Robin Hoods,” and was shot down on January 7, 1967. After being repaired in the United States, it returned to service until 1995.

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Thomas Jefferson's Lap Desk

Thomas Jefferson's lap desk
The Smithsonian Institution

In 1776 Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence on this portable lap desk of his own design. Featuring a hinged writing board and a locking drawer for papers, pens, and inkwell, the desk was Jefferson's companion as a revolutionary patriot, American diplomat, and president of the United States.

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Nancy Reagan's Inaugural Ball Gown

Nancy Reagan's 1981 inaugural ball gown
National Museum of American History

The gown worn by Nancy Reagan at the 1981 inaugural ball is a white, one-shoulder sheath gown of lace over silk satin. The fern-patterned lace is accented with crystal and chalk bead flowers and raised bugle bead stems.

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1401 Locomotive

The 1401 Locomotive, with mannequins, as displayed at the Museum of American History
David Wilson / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

The “1401,” a 199-ton, 92-foot-long steam locomotive, was built in 1926 for the Southern Railway. In 1945, the “1401” pulled President Franklin Roosevelt’s funeral train along part of its journey to Washington, DC.

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Pentagon Flag

Flag unfurled on the wall of the damaged Pentagon building, September 13, 2001.
Michael W. Pendergrass / U.S. Navy / Getty Images

Members of the Flag Fold Detail of the 3rd United States Infantry render honors to the Pentagon garrison flag during a Retreat Ceremony hosted by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Thurs., Sept. 7, 2006, at the museum in Washington, D.C. The flag, which was first unfurled from the roof of the Pentagon the day after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, has been on view in the museum since September 2002.

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R2-D2 and C-3PO

R2-D2 and C-3PO from "Return of the Jedi"
The National Museum of American History

Created by  Star Wars  filmmaker George Lucas, these two droids are among the most famous of all science-fiction robots. The little R2-D2 is spunky and resourceful, while his companion, the more human-looking C-3PO, is a bit of a worrywart. Of course, both of these robots were really costumes with an actor inside.

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Isaac Singer Sewing Machine

Sewing Machine, patented by Issac singer, 1851
The National Museum of American History

Elias Howe is credited by many with developing the first practical sewing machine in 1846, but initially, it was ignored by the public. Isaac Singer patented some improvements to the sewing machine, but his big contribution was marketing. Through staged competitions and the use of installment credit plans, Singer largely created consumer demand for sewing machines.

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Spencer Microscope

Spencer Microscope, circa around 1849 - 1859
The National Museum of American History

Until Charles A. Spencer began making microscopes in Canastota, New York, in 1838, the only high-quality scientific instruments available in the United States were imported from Europe. This brass monocular microscope, equipped with a mirror to reflect light through the slide, could be used with either a compound or a simple lens.

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