The American buffalo. Polio Vaccine. Marian Anderson’s fur coat. The Predator drone. Singer sewing machine. The AIDs Quilt. These are among the 101 objects selected by Smithsonian Magazine editors and featured in its special collector’s issue. Curators culled these from the Institute’s vast archives holding of 137 million artifacts either on display or stored among its 19 museums and research centers.
I found the stories fascinating. Representing history, wildlife, clothing, written accounts, photographs and more the 101 celebrates icons that made America.
I can’t imagine how they picked 101. I had enough trouble choosing 10 that spoke to me as symbols of American history and culture.
1. A life preserver from 1869 that saved explorer John Wesley Powell when he explored the Grand Canyon by river. A fun account told from the life jacket’s perspective.
2. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s robe. Poignant words from our nation’s first woman Supreme Court Justice.
3. Lincoln’s Top Hat from 1865. Already a tall guy (6’4”), Lincoln wore these everywhere.
4. Susan B. Anthony’s Gavel was given to her in 1888 by the National Woman Suffrage Association, an organization she co-founded. We have much to thank these early pioneers.
5. Levi jeans, 1873. Where would we be without denim?
6. Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.” I’ve always felt this song should be the national anthem.
7. Barbie. 1959. She’s endured; has changed careers, boyfriends, and cars. Maybe not the best symbol of the women’s movement, but an icon that I remember loving as a child.
8. Dorothy’s Ruby Slippers. There’s no place like home.
9. The National Zoo’s Giant Panda, China’s global ambassadors.
10. In the 1960’s , the Pill changed the world.
So what objects would you pick?