Fath Davis Ruffins

Curator of African American History and Culture; Division of Home and Community Life | Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Fath Davis Ruffins is the Curator of African American History and Culture in the Division of Home and Community Life in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History (NMAH). She has been a historian and curator at the Smithsonian Institution since 1981, working in several different divisions over that time. Between 1988 and 2005, she was the head of the Collection of Advertising History at the NMAH Archives Center. She is a specialist in ethnic imagery in popular culture, the history of advertising, on the history of African American preservation efforts, and on the origins of ethnic museums on the National Mall. Ruffins has curated or consulted on several major African American exhibitions, and on many community history projects around the country. Between 2011 and 2014, she served as original project director of Many Voices, One Nation, an exhibition that will open at NMAH in June 2017. At present, she is at work on a project about material culture of American children with the working title of “Kidstuff.” She is also in the research phase of a book manuscript on how diverse social and cultural histories became part of the Smithsonian Institution over the last fifty years. Ruffins also served on the 2016 Organization of American Historian’s selection committee for the Darlene Clark Hines Prize.