Nancy Pelosi donates gavel
Photo: Courtesy of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was our nation’s first female Speaker of the House — and so far, she’s the only woman who’s ever been in that role, serving from 2007 to 2011. Pelosi donated her mighty Speaker’s gavel to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History Wednesday morning.

"The gavel that we are adding to the museum’s collection today is more than an artifact of America’s political history," Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton said during a ceremony in the museum's Flag Hall. "It’s also a testament to Nancy Pelosi’s tireless leadership over the course of her career, and her determination to defy the odds."

Other items Pelosi donated were the burgundy suit she wore on the day she was sworn in as well as the original speech given at that induction, according to a release on the Smithsonian site.


Nancy Pelosi donates gavel

The gavel and other items donated by Pelosi will be part of the museum’s Political History collection (another gavel in that collection was used by women's rights activist Susan B. Anthony). There are no immediate plans to display Pelosi's donations — a Smithsonian spokesperson told Metro that what was on view Wednesday was a "special display" just for the ceremony.

Pelosi’s contributions join an array of artifacts already in the Smithsonian's possession that represent women’s "firsts" in American history. This includes the in-flight space suit of the first American woman to go up to space, Sally Ride, displayed in the National Air and Space Museum, as well as Sandra Day O’Connor’s Supreme Court robe displayed in the National Museum of American History.

"As a young girl, I was drawn to the Smithsonian as a source of creativity, discovery and innovation," Pelosi tweeted Wednesday morning. "Little did I know that I would be returning here to share moments from my time as Speaker of the House of Representatives."

Pelosi’s contributions were in conjunction with the kickoff of a new initiative introduced by Secretary Skorton Wednesday called, "Smithsonian American Women’s History Initiative." Details will be announced later this year, but it will "elevate the profile of women and their contributions across our museums and exhibitions," he stated.

"We at the Smithsonian recognize that for every women’s first that we celebrate here, there are countless American women whose achievements are underrated, undervalued or unrecognized," Skorton concluded. "These women, too, have made an indelible mark on our nation. And it is our responsibility, as an institution, to share more of their stories with the American people and the world."

Watch the ceremony with Nancy Pelosi  

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