I once spent over a week visiting different areas of all the Smithsonian Museums (there are nineteen) in Washington DC, and didn't even make a dent in viewing all that is on offer. The objects pictured and described here are hidden within the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. These seemingly ordinary objects embody extraordinary stories of Americas past as well as a glimpse behind the scenes of the museum.
Objects include a lock of Andrew Jackson's hair, a fence rail split by Abraham Lincoln, a dishtowel used as the flag of truce to end the Civil War, the microphones used by FDR for his Fireside chats and the chairs that seated Nixon and Kennedy in their 1960 television debate. Many of these relics have never before been displayed. They will be unknown to general readers and even to academics from the world of museum and cultural studies.