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