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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick

From founding families to a nation of nations

The Smithsonian has long collected artifacts to represent the American people, their cultural heritage and way of life. What kind of image has it reflected, and how has this image changed over time? While early historical collections focused on well-to-do colonial families and their descendants, after World War II the museum gradually broadened its scope to include a more diverse array of cultures and communities. New kinds of objects brought new kinds of stories, and these stories often challenged and complicated traditional interpretations of the past. The National Museum of American History has since committed itself to a history that represents all Americans, one that includes stories of conflict and inequality as well as triumph and achievement, one that inspires a richer understanding of American identity and the experiences and beliefs that have shaped American history.

Founding Families Everyday Life A Nation of Nations Popular Culture Protest and Conflict

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