Souvenir Nation: Relics, Keepsakes and Curios from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History

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As the title suggests, this heavily illustrated volume details quirky objects donated to the Smithsonian as souvenirs of people's lives and important events. The volume tells the stories of fifty of the National Museum of American History's oddest objects, some of which have never been on display, ranging from a lock of Sir Walter Scott's hair to Franklin D. Roosevelt's birthday cake, to John F. Kennedy's tie clip. Bird also traces the lives of the quirky collectors who have filled the National Museum's storage areas, beginning with John Varden, a theater technician and museum entrepreneur, and continuing through the microphone from FDR's fireside chats and the magnifying glass used to examine hanging chads.


  • Varden, John c. 1790-1865
  • Kennedy, John F (John Fitzgerald) 1917-1963
  • Roosevelt, Franklin D (Franklin Delano) 1882-1945
  • Scott, Walter 1771-1832
  • National Collections
  • National Museum of American History (U.S.) (NMAH)


Smithsonian History Bibliography


Bird is a curator of political history at the National Museum of American History. An exhibit in Schermer Hall in the Smithsonian Institution Building or Castle accompanied the book in August of 2013.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Artifacts
  • Souvenirs (Keepsakes)
  • Donors
  • Collectors and collecting
  • Collectibles



Physical description

Number of pages : 176 Page numbers : 1-175

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