DC at Night

DC at Night

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Uncle Sam: The Man and the Meme

DC's Smithsonian museums (there are 17 of them here in the city) are among America's most visited and treasured places. But the Smithsonian also publishes a series of some of the most interesting, fact-filled blogs appearing anywhere on the internet. Each Sunday, The Prices Do DC re-posts an entry either about the Smithsonian or that 1st appeared in 1 of the institution's blogs. Hope you enjoy and maybe we'll see you soon at the Smithsonian.

In honor of Uncle Sam Day, we tracked down the story of the familiar bearded figure with staff member Natalie Elder in our Armed Forces History Division.

He has been part of advertising for over 100 years, appearing on products ranging from cereal to car insurance. He's recruited Americans for military service and encouraged us to support the war effort. His name is mentioned in popular song. He makes regular appearances in political cartoons in newspapers across the country. He even hangs out in the hallways of this museum.

The image of Uncle Sam as a personification of our nation and government is widespread and instantly recognizable. But did you ever wonder about where he came from? Was he purely imaginary, or based on a real historical figure?

To continue reading this post, which 1st appeared in the Smithsonian blog "Oh Say, Can You See?", click here.

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