Museum Artifacts

A listing of selected Museum artifacts that can be used to teach American history using object-based learning techniques. The selected artifacts represent a variety of historical eras and the list will grow over time. Want to suggest a new artifact? Click here to contact us.


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"1778-1943 Americans Will Always Fight for Liberty" Poster

Grade Range: 5-12
Resource Type(s): Primary Source, Artifacts
Date Posted: 2/3/2011

To control the form of war messages, the government created the U.S. Office of War Information in June 1942. OWI sought to review and approve the design and distribution of government posters. Posters such as this one and their messages were seen ...


"Migrant Mother" by Dorothea Lange

Grade Range: 9-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Source
Date Posted: 3/22/2012

During the Great Depression, government photographer Dorothea Lange took this picture at a migrant farmworkers' camp near Nipomo, California. Lange's brief caption recorded her impressions of the family's plight: "Destitute pea pickers ... a 32-ye...


"Towne of Boston" Flintlock Musket

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Primary Source, Artifacts
Date Posted: 12/29/2009

American flintlock musket, .69 caliber, with "TOWNE OF BOSTON" branded into the stock.

This gun was put together in the Massachusetts Colony before the French and Indian War to arm the militia of the city of Boston.


"What Hath God Wrought" Telegraph Message

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Primary Source, Artifacts
Date Posted: 12/31/2010

Printed in Morse code and transcribed by Samuel Morse himself, this message was transmitted from Baltimore to Washington, D.C., over the nation's first long-distance telegraph line.


"Woodsy Owl" Anti-Pollution Poster

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Source

The U.S.D.A. Forest Service introduced Woodsy Owl in 1971 as an anti-litter and anti-pollution symbol to promote wise use of the environment. The campaign, which continues today, is primarily aimed at school-age children and uses slogans such as &...


16-Pound Bar Shot

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Primary Source, Artifacts
Date Posted: 12/29/2009

The shape of the bar shot, a center bar with rounded half-circles at either end, made it very effective against a rigged ship. The design allowed the weapon to carry away the yards, masts, and riggings of a ship.


1848 Gold Nugget

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Primary Source, Artifacts
Date Posted: 1/22/2009

This small piece of yellow metal is believed to be the first piece of gold discovered in 1848 at Sutter's Mill in California, launching the gold rush. John Marshall was superintending the construction of a sawmill for Col. John Sutter o...


1874 Remington Type Writer

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Primary Source, Artifacts
Date Posted: 3/5/2009

Remington put its writing machines on the market in 1874 at a price of $125. The new Type Writer owed some of its identity to the sewing machines that Remington had recently added to its product line. The writing machine came mounted on a sewing m...


1876 Ellen Harding Baker's "Solar System" Quilt

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Artifacts, Primary Source
Date Posted: 3/28/2012

This "Solar System" quilt was made by Ellen Harding Baker of Cedar County, Iowa, in 1876. The wool top of this applique quilt is embellished with wool-fabric applique, wool braid, and wool and silk embroidery. Included in the design is the appliqu...


1930s $100,000 U.S. Gold Certificate

Grade Range: K-12
Resource Type(s): Primary Source, Artifacts
Date Posted: 9/30/2008

During the early 1930s, the United States and the rest of the industrialized world experienced an economic depression. In 1934, the United States continued its movement toward removing its currency from the gold standard. It even became illegal to...

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Featured Artifact

Short Handled Hoe

The short-handled hoe brings back memories of back-breaking labor for generations of Mexican and Mexican American migrant workers who sustained California's booming...