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

Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian
 
Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian
by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
Foreword by Spencer R. Crew
 
American history
240 color and 20 b&w photographs,
9" x 12" (229 x 304 mm)
256 pages
Cloth: ISBN 1-56098-886-x
Price: 39.95
September 2001
Sales Area: World
 
Order Online or call 1-800-782-4612
About the book
Since its founding in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution has been America's museum. What do its vast collections—from the ruby slippers to a piece of Plymouth Rock, first ladies' gowns to patchwork quilts, a Model T Ford to a customized Ford LTD low rider—tell Americans about themselves? In this lavishly illustrated guide to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick tell the stories behind more than 250 of the museum's treasures. These stories not only reveal what America as a nation has decided to save and why but also speak to changing visions of national identity.

Shifts in focus and attitude lie at the heart of Legacies, which is organized around four concepts of what a national museum of history can be: a treasure house, a shrine to the famous, a palace of progress, and a mirror of the nation. The Smithsonian is all of these things; it collects cherished or precious objects, houses celebrity memorabilia, documents technological advances, and reflects American culture and daily life. Yet over time, as views of history have changed, the mission of the museum has evolved and expanded to accommodate new kinds of objects and stories. Taking examples from science and technology, politics, decorative arts, military history, ethnic heritage, popular culture, and everyday life, Legacies presents the Smithsonian collections as a history of ideas, conversations, and debates about what is important, and who is included, in the story of America.

Browse this website to learn about some of the objects at the National Museum of American History. Buy the book to learn more about the history of the museum, and to see the pictures beautifully printed. And visit the museum to see many of these artifacts on exhibit.

Drawing of the Smithsonian Institution Building, 1855 About the authors
Steven Lubar has worked at the National Museum of American History for almost twenty years and has written widely on the history of technology, material culture, and public history. He is currently chair of the museum's division of the history of technology. Kathleen M. Kendrick grew up in the Washington, D.C., area and spent many childhood field trips at the Smithsonian. In her current position as assistant curator of the museum's Star-Spangled Banner Project, she is helping to develop an exhibition on the history and meaning of the American flag.

Conceptual drawing of the National Museum, 1878 About the museum
The Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, Behring Center, is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the history of the nation and its people. Its collections encompass all aspects of American culture and experience, from science and technology to political and military history, from sports and entertainment to everyday life. Since it opened on the National Mall in 1964 as the Museum of History and Technology, National Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History), 1972the museum has become a favorite destination for millions of visitors each year who come to see such treasures as the desk on which Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence, the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz, first ladies' gowns, and the original Star-Spangled Banner.
 
 
Pictured above:

  • Drawing of the Smithsonian Institution Building, 1855
  • Conceptual drawing of the National Museum, 1878
  • National Museum of History and Technology (now the National Museum of American History), 1972

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