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National Museum of American History (NMAH)

Museum Website

Anthea Hartig, Director

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center, is responsible for the collection, care, and preservation of more than 3 million objects. The collections represent material evidence of the nation’s heritage in the areas of science, technology, society, and culture. As sources for research, the Museum offers not only the historical objects collected by its curatorial divisions, but also significant collections such as prints, photographs, business Americana and trade literature, and engineering drawings. NMAH also houses a notable research library as well as the Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology, which holds impressive collections of rare history of science texts in addition to World’s Fair materials.

Viewing objects as principal expressions of human creativity, the Museum is interested in how they are made, how they are used, how they express human needs and values, and how they influence society and the lives of individuals. As a national museum, NMAH’s natural focus is on the history of the United States of America, including its roots and connection with other cultures. Although the scope of the Museum is broad and its activities interdisciplinary, the Museum seeks to contribute to cultural, political, economic, and technological history through research that derives its evidence principally from material artifacts.

The collections, exhibitions, research, publications, and educational programs serve to achieve the Museum’s basic mission: to tell an inclusive story of America, examining its roots and myriad cultures.  By exploring the infinite richness and complexity of American history, we help people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future. The Museum, which opened in 1964, averages 5 million visitors annually.

In addition to the Smithsonian Fellowships, NMAH provides research opportunities through internships and fellowships with the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Scholars are encouraged to apply for these opportunities; see the sections on Other Internships and Other Fellowships in this book.

Office of Curatorial Affairs

The Office of Curatorial Affairs preserves, documents, interprets, and makes accessible the scholarship and collections of the Museum in support of the Museum’s mission and in accord with standards of quality and practice that maintain the Museum’s leadership in the field. The office is made up of four departments: Affiliations, Collections Management Services, Collections Support, and History.

The office provides vision for the Museum’s scholarly and collection development activities; coordinates and integrates activities in the departments and ensures responsible and coordinated management of resources within and between the departments; and aids all of curatorial affairs in prioritizing projects and program activities.

Affiliated Research Staff

Allison, David K., Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs. B.A. (1973) St. John’s College; Ph.D. (1980) Princeton University. Research specialties: Computer technologies; military technology; social history of technology. Contact:

Ellis, Janice S., Sr. Paper Conservator, B.S. (1983) Rutgers College; M.S. with Advanced Certificate in Conservation of Books and Archives (1991) Columbia University; Research specialties: Archive and library preservation and conservation, including: books, documents, art on paper, numismatics, philately, and photographic media. Contact:

Lilienfeld, Bonnie, Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs. B.A. (1984) University of Chicago. Research specialties: Ceramics made, used, and marketed in the U.S. with an emphasis on late 19th and early 20th century; 20th-century public transportation (America on the Move exhibition); History of the Bracero program (1942-64).


Department of History

The department’s collecting units document the development of science, technology, society, and culture in the United States. Holdings are particularly strong in the areas of instrumentation, communications, machinery, manufacturing equipment, and manufactured products. Collections also focus on the everyday life of Americans, with specialties ranging from the material aspects of the home and workplace, to traditional folk arts and 20th- century popular culture, to the enrichment of the visual arts and music, to the political history of the country. In interpreting these artifacts – primarily through exhibitions, publications, and public programs – the emphasis has been on understanding the social and cultural contexts in which they were produced and used and their impact on American society.

Division of Armed Forces History

The division collects and documents the history of the armed forces of the United States from colonial times to the present through both material objects and graphic works, supported by archival and library resources.

Uniforms, Accoutrements, and Insignia These collections contain uniforms, accoutrements, and insignia from the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Army Air Corps, and Coast Guard.  Uniform collections include such objects as:  headgear, footwear, buttons, belts, field equipment, rations, and personal effects.  Smaller sub-collections within this subject include U.S. women’s uniforms, foreign uniforms, and ancillary service uniforms.  Accoutrement collections include: holsters, slings, scabbards, bandoliers, and ammunition pouches and 500 pieces of horse equipment, mainly saddles.  Insignia collections include: badges of rank, decorations, awards, and trophies.

Flags The collections contain US national flags including the Star-Spangled Banner and U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Army Air Corps, and Coast Guard related flags.  There is also a discrete foreign flag collection.

Firearms and Ordnance This collection contains military and sporting long arms, military and civilian handguns, submachine guns, machine pistols, machine guns, grenade launchers, military and naval cannon, artillery and small arm ammunition, artillery and small arm accessories (ramrods, cleaning rods, and powder flasks) and edged weapons (swords, knives, and presentation pieces) and pole arms.

Arts and Graphics These collections contain paintings, illustrations, posters (broadsides), and prints ranging from the 19th century to modern day.  They cover a range of topics including battle scenes, recruitment drives, portraits, and depictions of uniforms.  A majority of the collection deals with World War I military art.

Gunboat “Philadelphia” A warship used by the Continental forces under General Benedict Arnold in the battle of Valcour Island on Lake Champlain in 1776.  The ship was burned and sunk in the battle and raised in 1935.  It came to the Smithsonian in 1960.

Japanese American Internment This collection explored a period when racial prejudice and fear upset the delicate balance between the rights of the citizen and the power of the state.  The 200 plus objects tell the story of Japanese Americans before, during, and after their internment between the years 1942-1945.

September 11th Collection The division houses the bulk, but not all, of the Museum’s collections that relate to the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.  In December 2001, the U.S. Congress made it the responsibility of the National Museum of American History to collect and preserve artifacts relating to the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and the Flight 93 Pennsylvania crash.  The collection contains materials from all three sites.

Numismatics Include a spectrum of materials illustrating the historical development of money since early times.  Particularly well-represented are coins and currencies from ancient Greece, the Far East, and Russia.  The collection includes a vast amount of material on United States coins, medals, paper currencies, and script.  The certified proofs of the U.S. notes are an excellent source of research for paper money experts.

Research Staff

Feingold, Ellen, Curator of the National Numismatic Collection. B.A. (2005) University of Wisconsin-Madison; MSc. (2007) University of Oxford (St. Antony’s College); D. Phil (2012) University of Oxford (Merton College). Research specialties: Imperial and global history, with a focus on the history of the British Empire and process of decolonization; the history of money and monetary objects; counterfeiting and forgery; African history and culture; legal institutions and the administration of justice. Contact:

Hacker, Barton C., Curator. B.A. (1955 &1960), M.A. (1962), Ph.D. (1968) University of Chicago. Research specialties: Science, technology, and the military; comparative world military history; women’s military history. Contact:

Jones, Jennifer Locke, Chair and Curator. B.A. (1985) George Washington University. Research specialties: Twentieth-century U.S. military history, Japanese Americans and World War II; World War II homefront; Vietnam Memorial and Vietnam war; U.S. National flags. Contact:

Affiliated Research Staff

Golden, Kathleen, Curator. B.A. (1985) Rutgers University. Research specialties: Naval History, Naval and Military History Collections. Contact:

Miller, David, Curator. B.A. (1987), M.A. (1992) George Mason University. Research specialties: American War of Independence and Early National Period; firearms and edged weapons. Contact:

Sanefuji, Noriko, Museum Specialist. B.A (1999) Randolph Macon Women’s College. Research specialties: Asian Pacific American History and Japanese Americans and World War II. Contact:

Vining, Margaret, Curator. B.A. (1979), M.A. (1981) George Washington University. Research specialties: Women’s military history, military material as primary research resources, military art. Contact:

Yeh, Cedric, Deputy Chair. B.A. (1992) Brandeis University; M.A. (1996) George Washington University. Research specialties: Collections Management; September 11th National collection, Japanese American Internment Era collections, Asian Pacific American History and Culture. Contact:

Division of Culture and the Arts

The Division of Culture and the Arts dedicates itself to educating and inspiring its audiences by preserving and presenting their heritage.

The division carries out its mission through collections research, exhibitions, publications, teaching and lectures, performances, broadcasts, and other presentations.  The areas of focus for some collections and programs are:  music, dance, theater, film, broadcast media, sports, recreation, popular culture, photographic history, printing and the graphic arts.

Research Staff

Boudreau, Joan, Curator. B.A. (1978) Boston College Certificate of Accomplishment U.S.D.A. Graduate School, Natural Field Studies (1986). Research specialties: History of printmaking; history of printing; environmental history; government printmaking & the American West. Contact:

Bowers, Dwight Blocker, Curator Emeritus, Entertainment History. B.A. (1978) Hiram College; M.A. (1981) University of Connecticut. Research specialties: American drama and theater history; musical theater history and performance; American film history; American popular music, 1900-1955; history of recorded sound, especially American musical theater and popular vocalists; American popular culture. Contact:

Hasse, John Edward, Curator of American Music. B.A. (1971) Carleton College; M.A. (1975), Ph.D. (1981) Indiana University, Bloomington; Certificate in Business Administration (1981) Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Research specialties: Music in American culture, 1860-present; history of jazz, ragtime, rock, blues, soul, country, popular song, etc.; history of the recording industry and music business in America; Duke Ellington; music of New Orleans and the Mississippi River; children’s songs; the canons of American music; American history through popular song; world jazz; music museums. Contact:

Perich, Shannon Thomas, B.A. (1993), B.F.A. (1993) University of Arizona; M.A. (1996) George Washington University. Research specialties: History of photography, snapshot and vernacular photography, history of digital photography, Richard Avedon. Contact:

Slowik, Kenneth, Curator and Artistic Director, Smithsonian Chamber Music. Performer’s Certificate (1973) Mozarteum, Salzburg; B.M. (1976), M.M. (1977) Roosevelt University; D.M.A. (1996) Johns Hopkins University. Research specialties: Baroque, classical, romantic and early-20th-century performance practices; use of historical instruments in contemporary performances; French literature of the viola da gamba. Contact:

Wright, Helena E., Curator. B.A. (1968) Bryn Mawr; M.L. Sc. (1975) Simmons College. Research specialties: Visual culture, including prints and photomechanical processes; history of print collecting; business history of American printmaking; women’s work in graphic arts trades. Contact:

Affiliated Research Staff

Delaney, Michelle A., Assistant Director for History and Culture, National Museum of the American Indian. B.A. (1987) Manhattanville College; M.A. (1991) George Washington University. Research specialties: History of Photography, origins of the Smithsonian’s photography collection, Daguerreian era photography and early color photography, photography of motion, Pictorialism and art photography, contemporary photojournalism, and Washington D.C. photographers. Contact:

Hoover, Cynthia Adams, Curator Emeritus, Musical Instruments. B.A. (1957) Wellesley College; M.A.T. (1958) Radcliffe College; M.F.A. (1961) Brandeis University. Research specialties: Cultural, social, and technological history of musical instruments, especially the piano, made and used in America; music in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American life; interpretation of American material culture. Contact:

Jentsch, Eric, Deputy Chair. B.A. (1993) St. Louis University; M.A. (1996) George Washington University. Research specialties: Sports and popular culture. Contact:

Kluck, Stacy, Chair and Curator. B. Mus. (1982) Concordia College. Research specialties: Music and Musical Instruments, Sound Recordings, Entertainment, and collections care and management. Contact:

Rogers, Jane, Curator. B.A. (1986) University of Maryland. Research specialties: Fire fighting and rescue; sports and leisure, Popular Culture. Contact:

Sweeney, Melodie, Curator. B.A. (1975) Mary Washington College; M.A. (1983) University of South Carolina. Research specialties: Bedcoverings and bed linens, woven coverlets, printed textiles 17th and 18th century, collections storage. Contact:

Division of Home and Community Life

The Division of Home and Community Life cares for, researches, and develops collections that represent the daily life of America’s diverse population from the 17th to the 21st century.  Subjects explored include home furnishings, food, clothing, domestic production, religion, community organizations, and patterns of migration and immigration.  Childhood and the development of leisure time are examined, along with the roles technology and invention play in home and community life. The examination of these themes leads to a greater understanding of the American experience.  The collections include ceramics and glass, textiles, domestic life, and costume, as well as the ethnic, education and religion collections of the former Division of Community Life. The staff shares its research and collections with the public through exhibitions, publications, lectures, and behind-the-scenes tours of its storage areas.

Research Staff

Davis, Nancy Ellen, Curator. B.A. (1970) Russell Sage College; M.A.T.(1976), Ph.D. (1987) George Washington University. Research specialties: American material/visual culture; technologies in the home; Asian influence on American material culture; consumption and market studies; gender studies. Contact:

Green, Rayna D., Curator Emeritus and Director of the American Indian Program. B.A. (1963), M.A. (1966) Southern Methodist University; Ph.D. (1973) Indiana University. Research specialties: American and American Indian food history and food ways; American and American Indian material culture; American Indian cultural history; American Indian agriculture; American Indian women; American folklife and popular culture. Contact:

Ruffins, Fath Davis, Curator. B.A. (1976) Radcliffe College; A.B.D. (1976-79) Harvard University. Research specialties: African American history and culture; racial construction and ethnic identity; museum studies, historic preservation, exhibition development public history. Contact:

Salazar-Porzio, Margaret, Curator. B.A., (2005) California State University of Los Angeles, M.A. (2008) and Ph.D. (2010), University of Southern California, American Studies and Ethnicity. Research specialties: U.S. Chicana/o and Latina/o History; Immigration and transnational history of the U.S.-Mexico Border Region and the Pacific Rim; Asian American Studies; Comparative Race Relations in the 20th-Century U.S.; Media Studies with an emphasis on Television, Photography, and New Media; Visual and Material Culture of Latinas/os in the U.S.; Civil Rights and Human Rights Law; Women’s and Gender Studies. Contact:

Shaw, Madelyn, Curator. B.A., (1977) Binghamton University-Harpur College: M.A. (1988) Fashion Institute of Technology. Research specialties: History of design, production, and consumption of textiles in America; Slave cloth; China trade textiles; American silk industry; Textiles in wartime; Sailmaking and cordage. Contact:

Affiliated Research Staff

Velasquez, Steve, Curator. B.A. (1994) University of Missouri; M.A. (1997) George Washington University. Research specialties: Latino identity and material culture, Latin American material culture; Latin American archaeology, Post Classic (Aztec) ceramics from Central Mexico. Contact: 

Winkle, Timothy, Deputy Chair and Curator. B.A. (1995) College of William & Mary; M.A. Popular Culture Studies (1998) Bowling Green State University; M.A. Museum Studies (2002) University College London. Research specialties: History of American firefighting, Fraternal history, Community organizations, History and development of early American museums. Contact:

Yeingst, William H., Chair and Curator. B.A. (1976) Allegheny College. Research specialties: American social history; household and family life with an emphasis on domestic furnishings. Contact:

Division of Medicine and Science

The division preserves and interprets the rich material legacy of the biological, medical, and physical sciences.

Collections are:

Biological Sciences Molecular biology and biotechnology instrumentation, special apparatus and instrumentation used for field and laboratory research and in classroom education, artifacts documenting the social and political history of biology, artifacts relating to the roles of women and minorities in science, and trade literature associated with these areas.  The environmental history collection focuses on the material culture of the environmental movement and conservation.

Computers Include electronic computers and related electronic devices, software, records, and ephemera that document in material form the evolution of computers and their pervasive effects on modern American society.

Mathematics Include astrolabes, drawing instruments, slide rules, mechanical calculating machines, cryptographic instruments, geometric models, and other objects pertaining to mathematics and mathematics teaching, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Medical Sciences Crude drugs, patent medicines, biological, drug manufacturing apparatus and containers, laboratory equipment, eyeglasses, cardiac and other surgical instruments, artificial organs, dental equipment, microscopes, radiology apparatus, diagnostic instruments, quack medical devices, and veterinary medicines and equipment.  There are growing collections related to the history of disability, alternative or complementary medicine, molecular medicine and genetic engineering, and public health.  These are supplemented by trade catalogs, posters, advertising literature, business records, and audio-visual manuscript materials.

Modern Physics Artifacts related to 20th-century physics, notably nuclear fission and its applications, subatomic particle accelerators and detectors, and atomic clocks.

Physical Sciences Include apparatus of astronomy, chemistry, classical physics, meteorology, navigation, and surveying.  Of particular importance are instruments used to explore, survey, and analyze the North American continent; instruments used for science education in American schools; and research apparatus from academic, government, and industrial laboratories.  Trade literature supplements the collection.

Research Staff

Lord, Alexandra, Chair and Curator. A.B. (1987) Vassar College; Ph.D. (1995) University of Wisconsin, Madison. Research specialties: History of public health, sex education, the medicalization of suicide, urbanization, infectious disease, and public health. Contact:

Kidwell, Peggy Aldrich, Curator. B.A. (1971) Grinnell College; M.Phil (1974), Ph.D. (1979) Yale University. Research specialties: History of mathematical instruments and mathematics teaching. Contact:

Ott, Katherine, Curator. B.U.S. (1976) University of New Mexico; Ph.D. (1991) Temple University. Research specialties: History of the body, disability, ethnic and folk medicine, integrative and alternative medicine, ophthalmology, plastic surgery, dermatology, medical technology, prosthetics and rehabilitation, sexuality; visual and material culture, ephemera. Contact:

Stine, Jeffrey K., Curator. B.A. (1975), M.A. (1978), Ph.D. (1984) University of California, Santa Barbara. Research specialties: Environmental history; history of science and technology policy. Contact:

Warner, Deborah J., Curator. B.A. (1962) University of Chicago; M.A. (1963) Harvard University. Research specialties: History of scientific instruments; history of celestial cartography; women in science and technology. Contact:

Affiliated Research Staff

Chelnick, Judy M., Curator. B.A. (1976) William Smith College; M.A. (1979) Case Western Reserve University. Research specialties: History of medicine and dentistry, particularly the history of surgical instrumentation, the history of cardiology, bionics, neonatology and the Bristol-Myers Squibb 18th Century Apothecary. Contact:

Seeger, Ann M., Curator Emeritus. B.S. (1975) Catholic University of America. Research specialties: Science education, in fields of biological sciences and chemistry. Contact:

Sherman, Roger Essleck, Curator. B.A. (1979) Yale University. Research specialties: History of physics, especially experiments, instruments, and apparatus. Contact:

Turner, Steven, Curator. B.S. (1976) University of Nebraska. Research specialties: History of astronomy; history of physics; science education. Contact: Contact:

Wendt, Diane, Curator. B.A. (1982) College of William and Mary. Research specialties: History of Pharmacy and Public Health: including materia medica, patent medicines, health and hygiene products, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and drug advertising. Contact:

Division of Political History

The Division of Political History is dedicated to the study of American democracy and the material culture that has shaped its history.  The division gives particular attention to the political principles, practices and institutions that have shaped the political culture of the United States.  The division focuses on political relationships between groups and interests, institutions of government, and changing practices of representative and participatory democracy in a nation of diverse people and cultures.

The division is especially interested in changing definitions of citizenship and political rights; contested political ideologies; governmental policies and their impact; the role of political parties; elections; protest and reform movements; varied and changing expressions of nationalism; predictive opinion and media effects; and traditional political techniques and forms of communication.

The collections document the history of American democracy and the nation’s political culture from colonial settlements to the present.  The collection is divided into four major areas:

Political Campaign Collection The Political Campaign Collection is the largest holding of presidential campaign material in the United States and includes banners, signs, campaign ephemera, novelties, documents, photographs, voter registration material, ballots, and voting machines.

General Political History Collections The General Political History Collections includes personal and ceremonial objects associated with the presidency, White House, and first ladies; inaugural items; material associated with national political figures and events; home front and civil defense material; national symbols, and items related to government policies and organizations.

Reform Movements Collections The Reform Movements Collections includes material that documents women’s history and suffrage, civil rights, labor history, and groups and individuals that have organized and demonstrated around political, social, economic and international issues throughout American history.

Research Staff

Bird, William L., Curator Emeritus. B.A. (1973) University of Maryland; M.A. (1975) University of Arizona; Ph.D. (1985) Georgetown University. Research specialties: Twentieth-century political campaign promotion and advertising.

Graddy, Lisa Kathleen, Deputy Chair and Curator. B.A. (1985) University of Maryland; M.A. (1987) Texas Tech University. Research specialties: Women’s Political History; U.S. Political History; First Ladies Collection. Contact:

Jerry, Claire, Curator. B.A. (1979) Butler University; M.A. (1982) Miami University; M.A. (2012) University of Illinois Springfield; Ph.D. (1987) University of Kansas. Research specialties: U.S. political history and campaign communication, U.S. women’s history, history of public address, public history and public memory. Contact:

Loza, Mireya, Curator. B.A. (2001) University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; M.A. (2003) University of Texas at Austin; M.A. (2006), Ph.D. (2011) Brown University. Research specialties: Labor history; Social movements; Civil Rights; Migration. Contact:

Rand, Harry, Senior Curator. B.A. (1969) City College of New York; M.A. (1971), Ph.D. (1974) Harvard University. Research specialties: Cultural assumptions in the material culture of fine arts of the twentieth-century in America and Europe; religion’s cultural expression in theology & sustainable architecture; the methodology of art history. Contact:

Rubenstein, Harry R., Chair and Curator. B.A. (1974), M.A. (1979) University of New Mexico; M.A. (1983) George Washington University. Research specialties: Labor history; American social history; U.S. political history. Contact:

Smith, Barbara Clark, Curator. B.A., M.A. (1973) University of Pennsylvania; Ph.D. (1983) Yale University. Research specialties: Social, cultural, and political history of early America; American Revolution; women’s and gender history; public history, theory and practice. Contact:

Division of Work and Industry

The division collects the material culture of American industry and interprets it in relation to the country’s social and cultural history.  Our collections, exhibits, public programs, research and writing put America’s agricultural, business, economic, engineering, industrial, and transportation heritage into historical context to better understand and explain technology and American history, society and culture.  The major collection areas are:

Agriculture and Natural Resources Collections These collections include agricultural machinery; food processing technology and food packaging containers; mining, especially coal mining; petroleum; fisheries including whaling.

Industrial History Collections These collections focus on machines for working metal and wood, and the industrial context that makes sense of those machines; process control devices; robotics; material related to industrial management, including images taken by Frank and Lilian Gilbreth for scientific management studies; miscellaneous industrial machinery and products.

Engineering History Collections These collections include prime movers, steam and gas engines and wind and water power devices, and many models and toys; extensive archival, model and photographic collections relating to civil engineering works, including bridges, tunnels, buildings and railroad rights-of-way.

Electricity These collections preserve and explore the history of electrical science and technology.  Holdings include electrostatic devices; lamps, generators, meters and other power system components; communications technology such as telegraphy, telephony, magnetic recording, radio, and television; and masers, lasers, transistors and chips.

Mechanisms Collections These collections comprise watches and clocks (European and American); typewriters; mechanical phonographs; experimental phonograph records; and locks.

Transportation Collections These collections include automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles, bicycles and animal-drawn vehicles; automobile accessories, highway and travel objects, and other road transportation objects; rigged and half-hull ship models; more than 7,000 ship design plans; large collections of photographs, scrimshaw, and marine paintings; locomotive models and a small number of full-scale railroad cars and locomotives; and archival materials relating to rail transportation.

Research Staff

Franz, Kathleen, Curator. B.A. (1990) University of Texas at San Antonio; Ph.D. (1999) Brown University. Research specialties: Cultural history of business and technology in the United States from the 1870s to the 1950s. Contact:

Johnson, Paula J., Curator. B.A. (1976) Gustavus Adolphus College; M.A. (1981) University of Texas, Austin. Research specialties: American food and wine history; Chesapeake Bay maritime history and folklore; North American fisheries and fishing communities; boats and boatbuilding. Contact:

Johnston, Paul F., Curator. B.A. (1972) Middlebury College; Ph.D. (1981) University of Pennsylvania. Research specialties: Maritime history, marine art and nautical archaeology of the United States and worldwide; automobiles and motorcycles. Contact:

Liebhold, Peter, Curator. B.F.A. (1980) Maryland Institute College of Art. Research specialties: Culture of work, management practice, manufacturing technology, methods and motivations of technological change, immigration and migration, visual culture, and agricultural history. Contact:

Stephens, Carlene, Curator. B.A. (1971) Muhlenberg College; M.A. (1976) University of Delaware. Research specialties: History of time in the United States. Contact:

Wallace, Harold, Curator. B.A. (1982), M.A. (1994), Ph.D. (in progress) University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Research specialties: Electric light and power; electrical communication technology; electrical science. Contact:

White, Roger, Curator. B.A. (1975) University of Maryland, Baltimore County; M.A. (1977) University of Delaware. Research specialties: Social history of the automobile; automobile design and manufacturing; travel and tourism. Contact:

Affiliated Staff

Finn, Bernard, Curator Emeritus. B.E.P. (1955), Cornell University; Ph.D. (1964), University of Wisconsin. Research specialties: submarine telegraphy, history of electrical communications, history of science and technical museums. Contact:

Withuhn, William L., Curator Emeritus. M.B.A. (1977), M.A. (1980) Cornell University. Research specialties: Relationships of railroads to the social history of the United States; twentieth-century railroad vehicle design; and the economic and technological history of the automobile.

Archives Center

The Archives Center supports the mission of the National Museum of American History by preserving and providing access to documentary evidence of America’s past. The Archives Center’s collections complement the Museum’s artifacts and are used for scholarly research, exhibitions, journalism, documentary productions, school programs, and other research and educational activities.

The Archives Center currently has more than 1,500 collections stored in the American History building and at off-site storage locations. In addition to paper-based textual records, many of the collections contain photographs, motion picture films, videotapes, and sound recordings. Increasingly, the collections include born digital documents in a wide variety of formats.

The collections are particularly strong in the areas of technology, invention and innovation, advertising, African American history and culture, American popular music, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) and Latinx materials that relate to advertising, broadcasting, and music. The Archives Center’s holdings support research into a wide range of historical topics and themes. Examples include the roles and activities of American women, cultural depiction and ethnic imagery, consumer culture, and popular expression.

Research Staff

Haberstich, David E., Curator of Photography. B.F.A. (1963) Rochester Institute of Technology; graduate study in art history (1963-64) Indiana University; M.L.A. (1970) Johns Hopkins University. Research specialties: History of photographic art and technology; conservation of photographs; history of twentieth-century art, especially Dada, Futurism and Surrealism; history of documentary photography; history of Smithsonian photographic collections. Contact:

Affiliated Research Staff

Oswald, Alison L., Archivist. B.A. (1989) St. Bonaventure University M.S. (1992) Ball State University M.L.S. (1994) State University of New York. Research specialties: American inventors and history of technology, science and health care related collections. Contact:

Robinson, Jr. Franklin, Archivist. B.F.A. (1981) The Catholic University of America, M.A. (1988) The American University. Research specialties: Popular culture, performing arts, agriculture, colonial Mid-Atlantic, LGBT. Contact:

The Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center of Invention and Innovation

The Center was established in 1995 to document, interpret, and disseminate information about invention and innovation, to encourage inventive creativity in young people, and to foster an appreciation for the central role invention and innovation play in the history of the United States.

Through oral and video history interviews, the Center chronicles the work of living inventors in many areas, from music to microelectronics to carpentry. Information about these and other collections at NMAH relating to invention is available on the Center’s home page ( and a Center database tracks papers and records of modern inventors around the country. The Center runs symposia and conference on topics relating to invention and society and fellowships and student interns further increase both the base of knowledge on invention and accessibility to it. The Center also sponsors programs for school-age children to inspire them not only to learn more about invention and inventors but to tap their own creativity in new ways.

Research Staff

Bedi, Joyce E., Senior Historian. B.A. (1977) Northeastern University; M.A. (1983) James Cook University. Research specialties: History of technology, invention, photography. Contact:

Brodie, Jeffrey L., Deputy Director. B.A. (1991) University of California, Berkeley; M.A. (1993) University of Connecticut; Ph.D. (2005) George Washington University. Research specialties: United States History, American Revolution, early National Period. Contact:

Fritzsch, Laurel, Curator, B.A. (2004) Lawrence University; M.A. (2007) University of Leicester. Research Specialties: Stigmatized sub-cultural groups.

Hintz, Eric S., Historian. B.S. (1996) University of Notre Dame; M. A. (2005), Ph.D. (2010) University of Pennsylvania. Research specialties: history of 19th and 20th-century science and technology; invention, innovation, and R&D; U.S. business and economic history; science, technology, and religion. Contact:

Affiliated Research Staff

Karvellas, AnnaPlaces of Invention Web and Affiliates Project Coordinator. B.A. (1992) University of Michigan. Research specialties: arts and culture, including the history and evolution of American roots music; William Steinway and Steinway & Sons; history of the physical and cultural development of New York City, particularly urban planning in Western Queens; the relationship between geography, natural and man-made resources, and community in hots spots of invention. Contact:

Molella, Arthur P., Emeritus. B.A. (1965) Syracuse University; M.A. (1968), Ph.D. (1972) Cornell University Hon DSc. Westminster University, London. Research specialties: Science, technology, and society in the U.S.; process of invention; technology and modernism; technology and urban planning. Contact:

Oswald, Alison L., Archivist. B.A. (1989) St. Bonaventure University M.S. (1992) Ball State University M.L.S. (1994) State University of New York. Research specialties: American inventors and history of technology, science and health care related collections. Contact:

Smith, Monica M., Exhibition Program Manager. B.A. (1992) Pomona College. Research specialties: 19th and 20th century American invention, including invention and development of electric guitar; relationship among invention creativity, and play, and the inventive process. Contact:

Smithsonian Institution Libraries at NMAH

Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology

The Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology has major holdings of rare materials in the history of science and technology, with over 25,000 rare books dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries. Established in 1976 as the first rare book library of the 20-branch Smithsonian Institution Libraries’ system, the facility is located on the first floor of the Museum. The strengths of the Dibner Library’s collections are in the fields of mathematics, astron­omy, classical natural philosophy, theoretical physics (up to the early twentieth century), experimental physics (es­pecially electricity and magnetism), engineering technology (from the Renaissance to the late nineteenth century), and scientific apparatus and instruments. The rare books include significant holdings of works by Galileo Galilei, Johannes Kepler, Euclid, Carl Friedrich Gauss, Leonhard Euler, René Descartes, and Pierre Simon, marquis de La­place, Aristotle, and many others. Scientists represented by significant holdings in the 1,800 manuscript-group collection include Dominique François Arago, Humphry Davy, John William Lubbock, Isaac Newton, Henri Milne-Edwards, Hans Christian Ørsted, Henry Hureau de Sénarmont, Benjamin Silliman, Jr., and Silvanus P. Thompson. Other collections of note in the library include nearly 2,000 volumes on world’s fair and exposition materials, (ca. 1850-1920). More information about the Library and its collections can be found on its home page (

The Smithsonian Institution Libraries encourages independent research projects by Smithsonian fellows and short-term visitors, and currently offers three resident scholar programs. The Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology Resident Scholar Program annually offers support for individuals working on a topic relating to the his­tory of science and technology collections in the Dibner Library. The Baird Society Resident Scholar Program offers support for research in certain other special collections throughout the SI Libraries including the World’s Fairs Collection. The Margaret Henry Dabney Penick Resident Scholar Program supports scholarly research into the legacy of Patrick Henry and his political circle, the early political history of Virginia, the history of the American Revolution, founding era ideas and policy-making, as well as science, technology, and culture in colonial America and the Early National Period. For further information on these programs please visit the Libraries’ Research & Internships:

American History Branch, Smithsonian Institution Libraries

The National Museum of American History Branch Library, part of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries system, is a notable research library covering broad aspects of American social, cultural, political, economic, and technological history. The Library is available for use by researchers and fellows at the Museum. The Library also encourages in­dependent research projects by Smithsonian Fellows or Short-Term Visitors using one of the Library’s most remarkable collections: some 430,000 items of trade literature representing an estimated 30,000 companies which describe and advertise products of American business, industry, agriculture, and the decorative arts. The collection includes advertising brochures, technical manuals for manufacturers and repair shops, instruction manuals for consumers, mail order catalogs, pattern and design books, price lists, parts lists, factory record books, and company histories. Another collection, the World’s Fairs and Expositions, is a collection of published international exposition and world’s fair materials, strongest in the period from the early fairs of the mid-nineteenth century up to the First World War. It is available on microfilm and arranged by fair name. Access to specific reels is possible using the SILs’ publication, The Books of the Fairs (1992) or through its online catalog. Projects could encompass the study of industrial development, consumer trends, marketing techniques, and social history.  More information about the library and its collections can be found on its home page (

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