Photo of a mosquito encased in amber
Earth Science

Fossils: Life Cast in Ancient Stone

September 27, 2017

How can you turn a soft, organic, squishy organism into a fossil that can survive earthquakes, rising mountains, closing oceans, and colliding continents for millions, perhaps even billions, of years? Just what are the chances of some organism becoming a fossil? Learn about the necessary conditions required for a fossil to form and just how unlikely it is to happen. […]

image of star spangled banner
American History

The Star-Spangled Banner: Stitch by Stitch

September 4, 2017

The star-spangled banner tells the story of how our fledgling country was in peril in 1814; how the defense of a small fort in Baltimore gave heart to a people; and how we have defined, loved, and almost destroyed, and saved a national treasure. […]

Alexander Hamilton Signing the Declaration of Independence
American History

Alexander Hamilton: His Ideal Republic

August 24, 2017

Alexander Hamilton believed the most natural form of government was a republic in which everyone would have the freedom to exercise their natural rights, but his childhood in the West Indies taught him that some may be excluded. […]

photo of American bison on National Mall
American History

American Bison: A Story of Near Extinction and Conservation

July 26, 2017

With the American bison nearing extinction, William Temple Hornaday, a Smithsonian taxidermist, took it upon himself to lead a conservation effort to save the buffalo. His pioneering efforts led to the founding of the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. […]

Hobby and Lifestyle

Italy Travel Tips: 5 Roman Sites Not To Miss

June 20, 2017

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. […]

image of Benjamin Franklin's walking stick
American History

Symbol of Liberty: Benjamin Franklin’s Walking Stick

June 19, 2017

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. […]

Painting depicting Lincoln seated in a red chair surrounded by books and papers
American History

Dismantling Slavery: The Emancipation Proclamation

June 5, 2017

President Lincoln knew he had a moral obligation to abolish slavery. But as Commander-in-Chief of the Union army, the timing of emancipation had military consequences that would require careful consideration. […]

American History

From Radio to Television: The History of Electronic Communication

May 20, 2017

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. […]

Watercolor artwork of Japanese family life
History

Japanese Family Life: A Historical Perspective

May 8, 2017

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. […]

American History

An Icon of History: Thomas Jefferson’s Bible

April 13, 2017

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. […]

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