History Explorer Podcast-logo

History Explorer Podcast

55 Favorites

More Information


United States


Behind the scenes at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, staff members are conducting exciting, original research and collecting objects-both iconic and seemingly mundane-to tell compelling stories of American history. This podcast takes listeners along on their intellectual adventures. Along the way, we seek to expose the process of historical inquiry and present thought-provoking stories. Accompanying this series are standards-aligned teacher guides and Smithsonian images for classroom use.




Memorializing Martin Luther King, Jr.

Harry Clarke, a Museum Freedom School intern, discusses how we should remember Martin Luther King, Jr.

Duration: 00:08:09

Fighting For My Rights: Zoharah Simmons

Joy Lyman, a Museum Freedom School intern, hosts this special episode of History Explorer on civil rights activist Zoharah Simmons.

Duration: 00:23:23

Remembering Jazz Master John Levy

April is Jazz Appreciation Month! This year, the National Museum of American History is highlighting and celebrating the career of John Levy. In this episode of History Explorer, Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra Director Ken Kimery discusses John Levy's story and legacy.

Duration: 00:10:57

Collecting the Conventions

Curators Harry Rubenstein and Larry Bird discuss their trips to the national nominating conventions, how they collect political memorabilia, what questions they ask, and what advice they have for starting your own collection.

Duration: 00:13:59

Jazz Oral History Program

Ken Kimery, the executive director of the Smithsonian Jazz Masterworks Orchestra and the Jazz Oral History Project, discusses the Jazz Oral History Project with museum educator Matt Hoffman. Ken explains the history of the program and its importance, as well as gives some tips about how to conduct your own oral history projects.

Duration: 00:09:06

Harlem Globetrotters and Early Professional Basketball

Curator Eric Jentsch discusses the history of the Harlem Globetrotters, an all-African American basketball team that barnstormed through segregated America to become the world's most recognizable sports team.

Duration: 00:15:39

Japanese Internment and WWII Service

Curatorial assistant Noriko Sanefuji interviews Grant Ichikawa, a US veteran who enlisted after being relocated to a Japanese internment camp with his family in 1942. Allowed to join the army after a need for interpreters, Mr. Ichikawa served proudly and in 2011, he and other veterans were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his service.

Duration: 00:16:52

Underwater Archaeology and the Museum

Museum curator Paul Johnston discusses the field of underwater archaeology and how the study of shipwrecks can add to our understanding of many areas and eras in US history.

Duration: 00:19:07

Objects from September 11

Former curator and Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs, James Gardner discusses the museum's collection efforts and object stories follwing the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.

Duration: 00:18:17

Hurricane Katrina and Collecting from a Disaster

Six years ago, Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast of the United States. In her wake, a team of curators from the museum set out to collect objects that captured the history of the moment and what it meant to the country. Listen to the late curator David Shayt discuss how and what the museum collected in the immediate aftermath of the devastating storm.

Duration: 00:19:06

Crockett Johnson: Art and Math in the Days of Sputnik

You might remember Crockett Johnson as the writer and illustrator of Harold and the Purple Crayon. In this episode, curator Peggy Kidwell discusses how Johnson's mathematical artwork was inspired by a growing interest amongst Americans in math and science.

Duration: 00:16:19

Crockett Johnson: Art and Math in the Days of Sputnik (Enhanced Version)

You might remember Crockett Johnson as the writer and illustrator of Harold and the Purple Crayon. In this episode, curator Peggy Kidwell discusses how Johnson's mathematical artwork was inspired by a growing interest amongst Americans in math and science.

HIV and AIDS - Thirty Years Ago

It's been thirty years since the discovery of HIV and AIDS. In this episode, curator Katherine Ott discusses the history behind the medical and scientific advances that led to this, along with how Americans became aware and accepting of the illness in society.

Duration: 00:22:41

Investigating Portraiture

Shannon Perich, associate cruator at the National Museum of American History, discusses how portraiture can be used in historical research. Shannon presents three historical portraits, describing the historical context of each, while also providing information on how curators and researchers look for clues within historical photography.

Confederate Currency and the Richmond Hoard

Richard Doty, senior curator of the National Numismatics Collection, shares the story of the "Richmond Hoard", an enormous collection of Confederate currency obtained by the museum. With April, 2011 marking the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, Mr. Doty explains what currency meant to life in the South and how money can be studied to learn about our nationa's past.

Duration: 00:11:43

National History Day

Learn what it takes to develop a great National History Day project from some museum staff members who have judged the national level in the past. National History Day is an annual competition that engages students in the past through their own well-researched projects.

Duration: 00:18:15

The First Video Game

Petrina Foti discusses the history behind the development of the very first home video game system. She also talks about how to research and study objects such as computer and video games.

Duration: 00:15:58

Holidays on Display

Curator William Lawrence Bird talks about the history of American holiday display, from parades such as Macy's and the Tournament of Roses to lavish downtown department store windows, Santa-lands and mechanical displays.

Duration: 00:21:15

The History of the Dollar

Karen Lee discusses the history of currency in America--from using foreign money to the digital age.

Duration: 00:13:16

Historic Theater: Join the Student Sit-Ins

Samuel Xavier Carnegie talks about his role in the "Join the Student Sit-Ins" program and what it's like to be an actor at the National Museum of American History.

Duration: 00:14:30

See More