Food Justice Collections At The Smithsonian

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY
These objects from various collections of the National Museum of American History reflect moments and movements when Americans demanded, expressed their support for, and practiced everyday acts of food justice. As you browse this gallery, consider how artifacts and documents reveal ongoing struggles by citizens and communities for food security, access, and fair labor practices.
Peter Liebhold, Curator, Division of Work & Industry and Paula Johnson, Curator, Division of Work & Industry (NMAH)

Tintype of farmer, 1860s

In the 1870s farmers banded together and formed the Grange, an organization to build community and fight monopolistic railroads..
1998.0085.01

Meat packing novelty, 1914

Government inspection of food, begun in 1906, helped allay public fears of adulterated food that had been inflamed in books like The Jungle.
2006.0098.0578

Lunch counter, 1960

Portion of the Woolworth’s lunch counter from Greensboro, NC, site of student sit-ins against racial segregation beginning in 1960.
1994.0156.01

Poster, 1979

Poster honoring Fannie Lou Hamer, voting rights activist and founder of Freedom Farms, a community-based economic development project
1981.0878.11.b

Labor leader’s jacket, about 1980

Through hunger strikes and boycotts, Cesar Chavez, co-founder of the United Farm Workers, galvanized public support for the plight of farm workers.
1993.0409.01

Lettuce boycott booklet, early 1970s

Compiled for supporters of the nationwide boycott of iceberg lettuce, this booklet contains recipes and information about the work of the United Farm Workers.
2012.0036.02

Pinback button, 1970-71

Political button referencing President Nixon’s opposition to the United Farm Workers’ lettuce boycott.
1986.0666.127

Flyer, 1986

The Maryland Food Co-op, established in 1975, adopted the food justice motto “Food for People, Not for Profit.”
2012.3009.01

Trowel, 2018

A trowel used by students growing food at D-Town Farms, established in 2008 by the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.
2018.0203.03

Cloth bag, 2018

Featuring messages of empowerment through food, this bag is from the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network.
2018.0203.02

T-shirt, 2017

Worn by José Andrés, chef and founder of World Central Kitchen, during food relief work in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
2019.0224.03

NATIONAL MUSEUM OF the American Indian
The online lesson linked below provides perspectives from Native American community members and their supporters, images, news footage, an interactive timeline, and other sources about an important campaign to secure the treaty rights and sovereignty of Native Nations of the Pacific Northwest. Specifically, they challenged laws passed in the states of Washington and Oregon that restricted Indians’ treaty-guaranteed rights to fish. Learn more about Native People’s activism and the fierce social and political backlash they faced as a result, known as ‘the Fish Wars.’
Edwin Schupman, Education Product Developer (NMAI)

American Indians fishing at Celilo Falls

American Indians fishing at Celilo Falls, ca. 1900. NMAI P23273

Food Justice: National Museum of African American History and Culture
Marian Wright, Hunger, and the Poor People’s Campaign
In 1967, Robert Kennedy urged Marian Wright to meet with Martin Luther King, Jr., to discuss strategies for addressing poverty and hunger as national issues. This meeting evolved into the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign. Sadly, King was assassinated before the campaign launched, but the movement continued in his honor. For six weeks between May and June 1968, demonstrators came to Washington and lived in a tent-city on the National Mall. Known as Resurrection City, the encampment stood as a city of hope against hunger and poverty.
Aaron Bryant, Museum Curator, Photography, Visual Culture, and Contemporary History (NMAAHC)
Smithsonian American Art Museum
Calendario de Comida Gallery
In the 1960s-70s, Latino artists spotlighted rich traditions of daily life. Many Chicano artists drew inspiration from illustrated calendars in their homes that portrayed scenes of Mexican indigenous myths. Artists adopted this format to explore Chicano food ways and history. This 1976 Calendario de Comida features screen prints by California artists. Each month approaches food history differently, from celebrating salsa, chile, and crops like corn, to satirizing reliance on food stamps in times of need.
E. Carmen Ramos, Acting Chief Curator and Curator of Latinx Art and Claudia Zapata, Curatorial Assistant of Latinx Art (SAAM)

The Last Papa with the Big Potatoe (October), from Calendario de Comida 1976

Max Garcia, Luis C. González, The Last Papa with the Big Potatoe (October), from Calendario de Comida 1976, 1975, screenprint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Margaret Terrazas Santos Collection, 2019.52.46, © 1975, Luis C. González and Max Garcia

Untitled (Cover), from Calendario de Comida 1976

Ralph Maradiaga, Untitled (Cover), from Calendario de Comida 1976, 1975, screenprint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Margaret Terrazas Santos Collection, 2019.52.36

Tierra Sol (February), from Calendario de Comida 1976

Juanishi Orosco, Tierra Sol (February), from Calendario de Comida 1976, 1976, screenprint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Margaret Terrazas Santos Collection, 2019.52.38, © 1979, Juanishi V. Orosco

Para mis Jefitas since the Dawn of Time, c/s (May), from Calendario de Comida 1976

Rodolfo O. Cuellar, Para mis Jefitas since the Dawn of Time, c/s (May), from Calendario de Comida 1976, 1976, screenprint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Margaret Terrazas Santos Collection, 2019.52.41, © 1977, Rodolfo O. Cuellar

Hijos de la gran tortilla (July), from Calendario de Comida 1976

José Montoya, Hijos de la gran tortilla (July), from Calendario de Comida 1976, 1976, screenprint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Margaret Terrazas Santos Collection, 2019.52.43

Maguey (November), from Calendario de Comida 1976

Patricia Rodriguez, Maguey (November), from Calendario de Comida 1976, 1976, screenprint on paper, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Margaret Terrazas Santos Collection, 2019.52.47