Lil Hardin Armstrong―born Lillian Hardin in 1898, Memphis, Tennessee―was a jazz singer, composer and bandleader. While working as a sheet music demonstrator at a music store in Chicago, she was invited to play with Sugar Johnny's Creole Orchestra and later joined King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band. She played at Chicago’s De Luxe Café and the Dreamland. While playing with King Oliver, she met and...
View details ⇨
Gladys Bentley left home at the age of 16 and ended up in Harlem, New York. She began her career singing at rent parties—until she moved up to nightclubs and speakeasies.

She appeared at Harry Hansberry's "Clam House" on 133rd Street, one of New York City's most notorious gay speakeasies, in the 1920s. After its closing, she went on to headline Harlem's Ubangi Club, where she was backed up by...
View details ⇨
Elizabeth "Libba" Cotten, born in 1893 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was a blues and folk singer, and songwriter. Cotten developed her own original style as a self-taught guitarist. She played a guitar strung for a right-handed player, but played it upside down since she was left-handed. This position required her to play the bass lines with her fingers and the melody with her thumb. Her...
View details ⇨
Odetta Holmes, commonly known as Odetta, was born in 1930 in Birmingham, Alabama. She was a folk, blues, and jazz singer, songwriter and human rights activist. As a major figure in the American folk music revival that occurred during the 1950s and 1960s, she influenced many artists—to include Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mavis Staples, and Janis Joplin. She is often referred to as "The Voice of the...
View details ⇨
In 1892, Sissieretta Jones became the first African American to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City, New York. A newspaper review of the performance compared her to famous Italian opera singer Adelina Patti, and dubbed her the “Black Patti,” an epithet that Jones disliked but stuck with her during her thirty year career. Rather, Jones preferred to be called “Madame Jones.” Jones sang in...
View details ⇨
On October 31, 1938, aged 23, Rosetta Tharpe recorded for the first time. She recorded "Rock Me," "That's All," "My Man and I" and "The Lonesome Road," which all became instant hits, establishing Tharpe as an overnight sensation and one of the first commercially successful gospel recording artists. During the 1940s-60s, Tharpe introduced the spiritual passion of her gospel music into the...
View details ⇨
American dancer and anthropologist Katherine Dunham studied dance styles in Africa and the Caribbean, bringing new dance techniques back to America. In 1945, Dunham opened and directed the Katherine Dunham School of Dance and Theatre in New York City. Dunham often advocated for social change. She once told an all-white audience in Kentucky that she wouldn’t return because, "your management...
View details ⇨
"RIP Charles E. Berry, the architect of Rock and Roll. His music changed the course of American music." - Dwandalyn Reece, Curator of Music and Performing Arts.

View Chuck Berry's Red Cadillac Eldorado in our collection: s.si.edu/2mHpcM1
Only 101 African American women were identified as photographers in the 1920 U.S. Census, and Florestine Perrault Collins was one of them.

Collins transcended both gender and color lines to become one of New Orleans’ most successful female photographers of the 1920s and 1930s. She used her photography to counter racial biases of African Americans. Her earliest works depicted desexualized...
View details ⇨
"As we follow this form of mass action and strategic nonviolence, we will not only put pressure on the government, but we will put pressure on other groups which ought by their nature to be allied with us.” —Bayard Rustin.

#Onthisday in 1912, Bayard Rustin was born. In less than two months, Bayard Rustin (left) organized the largest demonstration of its kind held in Washington, D.C. The...
View details ⇨
Clementine Hunter, born in 1886 Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, was a self-taught artist. At a young age, Hunter moved to Melrose Plantation, south of Natchitoches. She spent much of her life as a farm laborer, picking cotton and attended school for only 10 days. However, she never learned to read or write. Hunter began her career as an artist at the age of 53, after finding discarded...
View details ⇨
Our Double Exposure photography book series Volume 3: African American Women, highlights our rich collection of photographs of African American women, some of whom are cultural icons and some unknown.

This collection of photographs demonstrates the dignity, joy, heartbreak, commitment and sacrifice of women of all ages and backgrounds. The volume features a selection of images that focus on...
View details ⇨
A quilt can be a powerful medium for communicating stories, andand were a rich tradition among African American enslaved women. Harriet Powers’ Bible Quilt is an excellent example and one of very few surviving narrative quilts made by an African American during the late 1800s.

Powers stitched her Bible Quilt in the mid-1880s and exhibited it at the 1886 Athens Cotton Fair. While on display,...
View details ⇨
On October 25, 1997, an estimated 750,000 African American women gathered for the Million Woman March on Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia. The day-long march from the Liberty Bell to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, focused on addressing economic, political and civil rights issues. The march was organized by Phile Chionesu and Asia Coney, two Philadelphia grassroots activists. The...
View details ⇨
Marjorie Joyner was the first African American graduate from Molar Beauty School in Chicago in 1916. Joyner, the granddaughter of an enslaved woman and her owner, was born in Monterey, Virginia on October 24, 1896. After Madame C. J. Walker’s death in 1919, Joyner was hired to oversee the Madame C.J. Walker Beauty Colleges as national supervisor.

In 1926, Joyner developed her concept for the...
View details ⇨
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is proud to present "Fly," to highlight the achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen and our PT 13 trainer plane on view in the museum’s gallery.

"Fly" a highly acclaimed play written by Trey Ellis, novelist, screenwriter and playwright, and Ricardo Khan, founder of the legendary Crossroads Theater examines the lives of four courageous...
View details ⇨
Our educators are reviewing National History Day projects for student participants!

Projects can be submitted by NHD participants from Wednesday, March 8, 2017 to Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 8:00 pm (EST). A reviewer will offer feedback and suggestions on your individual or group project. Reviews will address the strengths and weaknesses of your project, questions you may have, or help you...
View details ⇨
Harriet Tubman died on this day in 1913. Born Araminta Ross, she escaped the bonds of slavery as a young woman in the early 1800s. She returned to the South many times as a "conductor" on the Underground Railroad to lead other African Americans to freedom. She later earned the nickname “Moses,” a biblical reference alluding to the Book of Exodus, and the story of the prophet Moses leading the...
View details ⇨
We’re using #HiddenHerstory this #WHM to highlight the contributions of women! Download our toolkit to join us: s.si.edu/2n7usZP
Phyllis Mae Dailey was inducted #onthisday into the Navy Nurses Corps in 1945. Dailey, pictured second from the right, was the first African American sworn in as a Navy nurse, following changes in Navy recruitment and admittance procedures that previously excluded black women from joining the Navy Nurse Corps. These discriminatory procedures were enacted by the U.S. Air Force as well, which...
View details ⇨