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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Silver wine cup belonging to William Bradford, first governor of Plymouth Colony, 1634Silver wine cup belonging to William Bradford, first governor of Plymouth Colony, 1634

Although the Smithsonian has widened its scope to include a diversity of American ancestors, the Pilgrim fascination persists. This cup remained in the Bradford family until the 1980s, when it came up at auction. Encouraged by S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian and himself a Bradford descendant, curators moved to bid on the relic. Because of the cup's rarity and expense, the National Museum of American History formed a partnership with the Pilgrim Society of Massachusetts to purchase it in 1985. The museums now share ownership of the cup and take turns displaying it.

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