Advancing Philanthropy

Photo-Essay: Tools of Our Trade: The Smithsonian’s Exhibit on “Giving in America”

United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Halloween collection box, late 1900s.

Above: United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Halloween collection box, late 1900s. Amid concerns about world affairs after World War II, Americans were encouraged to donate to international relief. Philanthropy became the human face of global American influence, and organizations and foundations frequently funded projects led by the United Nations.

Images: Courtesy of the National Museum of American History, Giving in America exhibition

“Giving in America” is an ongoing exhibit at the National Museum of American History that showcases American philanthropy—“Who Gives?” “Why Do We Give?” “What Do We Give?” and “How Do We Give?”—and displays artifacts ranging from an 1800s alms box to a bucket used during the 2014–15 “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.” By the 1960s and 1970s, public awareness of the environment was growing, as were threats like pollution, species extinction and population growth. Americans founded organizations dedicated to a wide variety of environmental causes such as the National Audubon Society, Greenpeace and the African Wildlife Foundation. A selection of text and images from the Smithsonian Institution’s “Giving in America” exhibit appear here with thanks to Amelia Avalos of the National Museum of American History.

Boots worn by Earl Shaffer on the Appalachian Trail in 1998, 50 years after he became the first person to walk the entire trail in one continuous hike.
Boots worn by Earl Shaffer on the Appalachian Trail in 1998, 50 years after he became the first person to walk the entire trail in one continuous hike.

 

African Wildlife Foundation button
African Wildlife Foundation

 

National Audubon Society button
National Audubon Society

 

Greenpeace button
Greenpeace

 

Manumission document, 1793, Frederick, Maryland
Manumission document, 1793, Frederick, Maryland. Although African-Americans who were enslaved could sometimes purchase their liberty, a slave owner’s ability to gift freedom was a constant reminder of his or her power. This document granted freedom to a young girl, referred to here as Barby, from George Burckhardt.

 

Firefighter’s boot, 2015. Used to collect money from motorists for the International Association of Fire Fighters’ “Fill the Boot” campaign for muscular dystrophy, which started in 1954.
Firefighter’s boot, 2015. Used to collect money from motorists for the International Association of Fire Fighters’ “Fill the Boot” campaign for muscular dystrophy, which started in 1954.

 

Bucket used by Jeanette Senerchia in 2014 when her cousin, professional golfer Chris Kennedy, challenged her to tip a bucket of ice water on her head. Senerchia’s husband, Anthony, suffers from ALS. This bucket helped start the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.”
Bucket used by Jeanette Senerchia in 2014 when her cousin, professional golfer Chris Kennedy, challenged her to tip a bucket of ice water on her head. Senerchia’s husband, Anthony, suffers from ALS. This bucket helped start the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.”

 

Alms box, 1800–1840. These boxes have been used for centuries to collect money for religious institutions and charities.
Alms box, 1800–1840. These boxes have been used for centuries to collect money for religious institutions and charities.

 

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