photo of Colosseum in Rome
Hobby and Lifestyle

Italy Travel Tips: 5 Roman Sites Not To Miss

Ever walked through a Roman sewer? Have you found the source of light that illuminates a stained glass window? In The Guide to Essential Italy, the Great Courses and Smithsonian Journeys take you on a rich and diverse tour that explores the crown jewels of Italian civilization. These 5 Italy travel tips are just the beginning of what this course offers. […]

photo of Ben Franklin's walking stick; gold top represents his fur cap
American History

Symbol of Liberty: Benjamin Franklin’s Walking Stick

Benjamin Franklin, one of America’s Founding Fathers, cherished his walking stick. This relatively simple object, adorned with a liberty fur cap at the top, conveys a powerful message about America’s national character at its inception and reveals the success of Franklin’s diplomatic efforts with France during Revolutionary times. […]

American History

From Radio to Television: The History of Electronic Communication

In 1900, the invention of the radio was patented thereby cutting the cord of the great invention of the telegraph and allowing news and music to be broadcast to many people simultaneously. It wasn’t long before inventors figured out how to include picture with the audio and soon the television was born. By 1955, television had made its way into the living rooms of half of the American population. […]

History

Japanese Family Life: A Historical Perspective

Japan’s 2,000-year-old civilization grew through periods of seclusion and assimilation to cultivate a society responsible for immeasurable influences on the rest of the world. Here, we’ll take a peak at how Japanese family life evolved over ten centuries. […]

photo of interior of Thomas Jefferson's bible
American History

An Icon of History: Thomas Jefferson’s Bible

Jefferson’s bible is an amazing artifact. It provides insight into Jefferson’s views and his handiwork, an amazing illustration of how this founding father himself practiced the freedom of religion so avidly sought for all Americans. […]

Image of Marian Anderson singing at Lincoln Memorial
American History

Sing Out for Justice — Marian Anderson

On Easter Sunday, April 9, 1939 African American contralto Marian Anderson performed an unprecedented open-air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. What she wore on that day illustrated that, despite stereotypes and obstacles, an African American woman could transcend entrenched social and cultural barriers to achieve fame, fortune, and success. […]

Image of the Hope Diamond
American History

The Curse of The Hope Diamond

There had been, over the years—even decades—numerous stories about how the Hope Diamond carried an ancient curse. Several commentators questioned the wisdom of accepting the diamond. If the Smithsonian was the national museum of the United States and it acquired the Hope Diamond, then the country would own it. Would the American people then be cursed? […]

image of brush lettering of the Japanese Language
Language

The Japanese Language: Context Is Everything

Japanese language is highly contextual. It’s hard to know how to say something in Japanese unless you know the details of the social context. And that reflects a long-standing Japanese concern with order, with hierarchy, and with consensus. […]

American History

Symbols of Freedom: The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom, recognized around the world, and it heralded this wave of immigration that gave America a much more diverse face, though it didn’t start out that way, or with that purpose in mind. […]