Smithsonian Magazine September 2021

Smithsonian Magazine takes you on a journey through history, science, world culture and technology with breathtaking images from around the world.

United States
Smithsonian Institute
11 期号



“It’s gratifying to hear of others who appreciate that particular genre of music.” Tales From the Swamp Thank you for “On the Edge of the Everglades” (July/August 2021). Mentioned on Page 59 is Sara Lee Creech, my great-aunt and namesake. She was a force of nature in our family, and perhaps ahead of her time. Upon seeing some black children playing with white baby dolls, she took the initiative to push the idea of brown dolls for brown kids. We have photos and documentation concerning the development of the dolls, as well as Sara’s visit with Eleanor Roosevelt to gain her support. —Sara Whiteside | Golden, Colorado Westward Expansion While reading John Sedgwick’s article (“Whistle Down the Line,” July/August 2021), I was waiting for a mention that the construction of the railroad across the American…

our shared future

SOON AFTER THE National Museum of African American History and Culture opened, I witnessed a powerful exchange. At the casket of Emmett Till, two families of different races met and struck up a conversation. Working together, both sets of parents helped to explain to their children the meaning of his death: how the 14-year-old had been murdered, how it became a rallying cry for the civil rights movement, and why we remember his story today. To me, this moment revealed the great strength of museums. Museums bring people of different backgrounds, experiences and beliefs together. Museums ask audiences to enter a common space and explore a common interest. Museums create informal communities of learning, helping people recognize how much we share, despite our differences, and how much those differences can help…

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king of the road

BY SALES AND ACCLAMATION, history and mythology, the pickup truck is the most popular vehicle in America and has been for decades. We’re told electric pickups will be the next big thing: The Tesla Cybertruck, the Ford F-150 Lightning and the GMC Hummer EV are online and on their way. But recall that GMC offered a full line of electric trucks—“operated by Edison current”—in 1913. These were designed by John M. Lansden, who had run an electric car company in Newark, New Jersey, as early as 1904. Bought out by Edison himself in 1908, Lansden made electric ambulances and taxicabs, buses and brewery wagons. The company stumbled financially and Lansden left to run electric truck development for GMC. By 1911, there were eight models of heavy-duty commercial electric trucks available…

chrome jewels

what if?

ACCLAIMED FOR her life-size pastel and charcoal portraits, Toyin Ojih Odutola now offers up a world so rich the writer Zadie Smith has compared it to a “novel of high society written by an African Edith Wharton.” The pictures appear in The UmuEze Amara Clan and the House of Obafemi, a new book tracing the imagined history of two fictional noble families in a Nigeria very different from the country where the 35-year-old artist was born. In her alternative history, cess the economic and social devastation wrought by the trans-Atlantic slave trade and European colonialism never occurred, and neither did Nigeria’s persecution of homosexuality. Instead, Ojih Odutola’s aristocratic families, joined by the marriage of two sons, take their wealth and status for granted. She hopes to inspire people who view…