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Category Archives: History

Watching the War From Above

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The nation is in the process of commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and those of us at the Smithsonian are very much involved, searching our collections for items that will help our visitors better understand the conflict that divided 19th century America. As might be expected, the National Museum of American History,   …Continue Reading


Birds of a Feather

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This year is the 100th Anniversary of the Girl Scouts, and on Saturday, June 9th there will be an estimated 200,000 girls coming to Washington DC for the Girl Scouts Rock the Mall event.  There are many famous women, including First Ladies, a Supreme Court justice, CEOs, and even astronauts who remember their days in   …Continue Reading


Hollywood’s Representation of Naval Aviation: Frank W. “Spig” Wead and John Ford’s “The Wings of Eagles” (1957)

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Introduction During the recently completed centennial of naval aviation (2011), there were many and varied tributes to the factual history of naval aviation. Nevertheless, we cannot forget that public perception of the armed forces is also a strong historical consideration. In Sailing on the Silver Screen: Hollywood and the U.S. Navy, Lawrence Suid has observed   …Continue Reading


Leaving the Moon, Watching at Home

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  After pressing some buttons to start up the ascent engine of their lunar module Challenger, astronauts Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt left the Moon on December 14, 1972. That’s 39 years ago – before many of us were even born. While these men looked out the tiny triangular windows of the lunar module to   …Continue Reading


The Santa Claus Express, Then and Now

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  In 1925, Mr. S. Claus was looking for a modern alternative to his old-fashioned reindeer-powered sleigh. Having once shown an interest in lighter-than-air flight in the form of hot-air balloons, Santa was favorably inclined when Goodyear came up with a solution — toy delivery via airship, in this case, Pilgrim I, renamed the Santa   …Continue Reading