Smithsonian National Postal Museum

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Virtual Story Time | Monday, January 8 | 11am ETCelebrate Martin Luther King Day with educators from the Postal Museum a...
01/06/2024

Virtual Story Time | Monday, January 8 | 11am ET

Celebrate Martin Luther King Day with educators from the Postal Museum and Hirshhorn Museum! Explore how MLK Jr believed in the power of words to create change with a reading of The Word Collector by Peter H. Reynolds followed by a look at stamps for the Postal Museum’s collection as well as Barbara Kruger’s exhibition Belief + Doubt at the Hirshhorn.

Recommended for ages 4-7, but all are welcome. Registration required (at the link).

Join educators from the National Postal Museum for live, interactive story time. Designed for children ages 4-7, but all are welcome!

Happy New Year from your friends at the National Postal Museum! Best wishes to all.This stamp, designed by Carl Herrman ...
01/01/2024

Happy New Year from your friends at the National Postal Museum! Best wishes to all.

This stamp, designed by Carl Herrman and illustrated by J.C. Leyendecker, was issued in December 1999.

© USPS; all rights reserved.

Happy Kwanzaa! A weeklong secular celebration of family, community, culture, and prosperity, Kwanzaa was established by ...
12/27/2023

Happy Kwanzaa! A weeklong secular celebration of family, community, culture, and prosperity, Kwanzaa was established by Dr. Maulana Karenga in 1966 and is based on African first-harvest traditions. The name of the holiday derives from the phrase “first fruits” in Swahili. The seven robed figures on this holiday stamp represent the seven days and seven principles of this African American holiday:

Umoja (Unity)
Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)
Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)
Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)
Nia (Purpose)
Kuumba (Creativity)
Imani (Faith)

©U.S. Postal Service. All rights reserved.

Merry Christmas to those celebrating today! This postcard was distributed by the YMCA to American Expeditionary Forces p...
12/25/2023

Merry Christmas to those celebrating today! This postcard was distributed by the YMCA to American Expeditionary Forces personnel during World War I. The front has a color illustration of a naval convoy with ships and aircraft, and a poem for the Christmas holiday.

“Distance is nothing but miles
Oceans are only waves and spray
Trifles like that cannot divide
Friends like us on Christmas Day”

The opposite side has handwritten message by 1st Lt. E. L. Norberg, APO 776 and is addressed to The Springer Family, Piedmont, California. Postmarked at a US Army Post Office, December 28 [c. 1918].

Dated December 14, 1812, an Italian soldier in Napoleon's multinational Grande Armée—the largest fighting force Europe h...
12/15/2023

Dated December 14, 1812, an Italian soldier in Napoleon's multinational Grande Armée—the largest fighting force Europe had ever seen—wrote this letter home from Prussia during the army's retreat from Russia. Tormented by the harsh reality that is a Russian winter, less than one third of Napoleon’s men survived. The brown military postal marking, used during the retreat, is rare.

Pictured here is the Postmaster General's collection of die proofs, as well as two die proofs of the 1957 3c Marquis de ...
12/14/2023

Pictured here is the Postmaster General's collection of die proofs, as well as two die proofs of the 1957 3c Marquis de Lafayette Bicentenary. Die proofs are an excellent resource to researchers who study the life of a stamp, and Postal Museum Collections staff work to provide access and images of this collection through written requests and appointments. These Lafayette die proofs were pulled for a study on stamps of the 1950s.

The process of stamp production begins early on with a concept transformed into visual artwork: a photograph, a painting, or even a knitted design. Once the design is approved, an engraved metal die is created with the reverse of the image. Ink is applied, and the die is pressed onto card stock for review. This inked design on card stock is known as the die proof. The proof is inspected, and if there aren’t any errors the proofs is signed off on (you can tell the approved proof here because it's the one with the signature!). The die is then transferred to a roll to make sheets. Sometimes there are multiple proofs of the same image, but with different color varieties.

Tomorrow at 4pm ET: Delivered Under Fire: Absalom Markland and Freedom’s Mail with author Candice Shy Hooper Please join...
12/11/2023

Tomorrow at 4pm ET: Delivered Under Fire: Absalom Markland and Freedom’s Mail with author Candice Shy Hooper

Please join us in person or online on Zoom on Tuesday, December 12 at 4 pm ET for a talk by Candice Shy Hooper on the work of Absalom Markland, the U.S. Post Office Department Special Agent often referred to as “Grant’s Postmaster General” for his efforts in organizing the mail during the Civil War. Reserve your ticket at the link: https://smithsonian.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_SA5e-H0SQMayfyc-cTzezA #/registration

During the Civil War, letters between soldiers and their families were critical to morale on the frontlines and on the home front — they were nearly as important as ammunition. To ensure that the military mail was delivered, the U.S. Post Office Department deployed Special Agents across the country to deal with the millions of letters that were unleashed on the postal system. Arguably the most important of these was Absalom Hanks Markland, who straddled the civilian and military worlds while creating the foundations for the military mail system of today. After the war, his swift response to Ku Klux Klan violence sparked passage of a landmark civil rights law. He was famous throughout the country during his lifetime, but forgotten until Delivered Under Fire, his first biography.

As candlelight begins to illuminate Jewish homes around the world with the beginning of Hanukkah, the National Postal Mu...
12/08/2023

As candlelight begins to illuminate Jewish homes around the world with the beginning of Hanukkah, the National Postal Museum and the National Museum of American History are sharing objects from our collections of stamps, coins, and banknotes with images of menorahs (candelabras) that range from 40 BCE to the present day. Ancient menorahs as shown on coins and banknotes in the National Numismatic Collection had seven branches but modern menorahs, as pictured on stamps in the National Postal Museum’s collection, have nine branches. Eight branches symbolize Jewish belief in the miracle of Hanukkah in which a jug with enough oil to burn for one night burned for eight nights inside the Temple in Jerusalem in 164 BCE. The ninth branch, the shamash, lights the other eight candles. Menorahs have become a symbol of both the festival of Hanukkah and the resilience and perseverance of the Jewish people.

Have you helped your favorite organizations this Giving Tuesday? The National Postal Museum needs the support of lifelon...
11/29/2023

Have you helped your favorite organizations this Giving Tuesday? The National Postal Museum needs the support of lifelong learners like you to make our critical work possible! Together, we can fuel discovery and wonder today and for future generations. Giving Tuesday is coming to a close, but there’s still time to make your impact: https://postalmuseum.si.edu/support

Today is Giving Tuesday, an opportunity to give back to the organizations you value most! Did you know that the National...
11/28/2023

Today is Giving Tuesday, an opportunity to give back to the organizations you value most! Did you know that the National Postal Museum needs the support of curious, caring people like you to make our work possible? Your gift today will fuel education, research, digitization, and so much more! Together, we can preserve and share America’s story through our postal and philatelic collections, inspiring lifelong learners everywhere. https://postalmuseum.si.edu/support

Happy Thanksgiving! The United States Postal Service (USPS) issued a horizontal strip of stamps reminiscent of a typical...
11/23/2023

Happy Thanksgiving! The United States Postal Service (USPS) issued a horizontal strip of stamps reminiscent of a typical Thanksgiving Day Parade on September 9, 2009. Paul Rogers based his computer-generated design on American advertising and poster art from the mid-20th Century.

Because of USPS policy restricting the promotion of commercial businesses when stamps are issued, these stamps did not identify Macy’s as a corporate sponsor of the parade nor acknowledge the commercial origins of the parade, Also the very term "Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade®" is a registered trademark owned by Macy’s. Ironically, Macy’s actually proposed and campaigned for the stamp and provided posters and other developmental artwork to consider during the stamp’s design phase. Macy’s even took the highly unusual step of paying for a full page ad in the New York Times announcing the stamps’ issuance, and hosting the first day of issue ceremony at its Herald Square store.

© USPS; all rights reserved.

11/20/2023

Smithsonian experts reflect on the life and legacy of the former first lady, who died Sunday at age 96

For centuries, the Pueblo Indian Nations of the American Southwest have been recognized for their skill as potters. Afte...
11/18/2023

For centuries, the Pueblo Indian Nations of the American Southwest have been recognized for their skill as potters. After gathering the sacred clay from their surrounding land, and shards of old broken pots now to become the strengthening temper, the clay is soaked, rolled and coiled to make a new pot. Local plants provide the paints and dyes, and even the paint brushes needed. Pots are polished and fired, sometimes in age-old outside adobe ovens. All of these processes reunite the ancient and the new within a vessel of present remembrance.

The pueblo best-known for its pottery is Zia pueblo. One of the distinctive marks of a Zia pot, the Zia bird appears on much of the pueblo's pottery. Another recognizable element, a single or double band called the 'rainbow band' runs from the top of the pot to the lower area. Flower motifs are also popular.

Though other forms exist, San Ildefonso pueblo is best-known for three basic styles: one black, one red, and the other black-on-black, the technique developed and made famous by Maria Martinez and her husband Julian during the early twentieth century. A stylized feather motif is an image strongly associated with the San Ildefonso pueblo.

Most Hopi pottery is immediately identifiable by its complex geometric designs, highly stylized birds and feathers, and distinctive color. Iron in the clay and outdoor firing produce variations of the distinctive yellowish hue of its slip.

Acoma pueblo is renowned for its striking white-slipped ware (black-and-white pottery of fine line design) but has also produced substantial amounts of black and orange designs. Also common to Acoma is polychrome pottery in fine line designs, animal motifs, and interlocking scrolls. Black-and-white designs at Acoma are often optical illusions that tease the eye of the beholder.


© U.S. Postal Service. All rights reserved.

11/17/2023

The National Postal Museum will close at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, November 17 due to impending demonstrations at Union Station. The museum will reopen at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, November 18.

Happy Veterans Day to all those who have served. For your bravery, hard work, and dedication, we thank you and honor you...
11/12/2023

Happy Veterans Day to all those who have served. For your bravery, hard work, and dedication, we thank you and honor you.

During WWII, about 33,000 second-generation Japanese Americans – called “Nisei” – enlisted in the US Armed Forces to help the war effort & demonstrate loyalty to their country. These men & women served heroically at a time when Japanese Americans faced prejudice, discrimination, & mass incarceration in internment camps on American soil. Some of these enlistees formed one of the most decorated US Army fighting units during the war – the all-Japanese 100th Infantry Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team. The motto of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team was “Go for Broke,” which is printed on this forthcoming commemorative stamp. The design is based on a photo taken in 1944 in France of Hawaiian-born Shiroku Yamamoto of the 442nd.

Although the “Go For Broke” motto originated with the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team, it is now commonly associated with all the Japanese American men & women who served during WWII. The majority served in the 100th/442nd RCT, Military Intelligence Service , 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion, Women’s Army Corps, Cadet Nurse Corps, & Army Nurse Corps. Among over 18,000 awards, the Japanese American WWII soldiers earned 21 Medals of Honor, 9 Presidential Unit Citations, & 9,486 Purple Hearts. Notably, testimony of Nisei veterans before Congress was key in the passage of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which acknowledged wartime bias against Japanese Americans & set precedent for future wartime protections of Americans.

Issued June 2021, the stamp was made possible due to the efforts of the “Stamp Our Story” campaign. The initiative was started in 2005 by three California Nisei women who each endured incarceration in US detention camps during the war: Fusa Takahashi, Aiko O. King, & the late Chiz Ohira. (Both Takahasi & King are widows of Japanese American WWII veterans.) These women campaigned tirelessly for 15 years, rallying support nationwide, as well as from French citizens & officials from towns liberated from German forces by Nisei soldiers during WWII.

© USPS. All rights reserved.

11/08/2023

Good morning, America! New book alert. “Smithsonian Asian Pacific American History, Art, and Culture in 101 Objects” is available today from Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and Smithsonian Books.

One of the 101 objects featured in the book is Nam June Paik’s “Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii,” currently on view at our Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery. Look closely at each state and you’ll see video clips of pop-culture moments Paik felt represented his understanding of the state.

A clip of “The Wizard of Oz” (1939) represents Kansas while Washington state contains a video of modern dancer Merce Cunningham.

What images would you use to represent your favorite state?

Nam June Paik, “Electronic Superhighway: Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii,” 1995, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist, 2002.23, © Nam June Paik Estate

For centuries, the Pueblo Indian Nations of the American Southwest have been recognized for their skill as potters. Afte...
11/02/2023

For centuries, the Pueblo Indian Nations of the American Southwest have been recognized for their skill as potters. After gathering the sacred clay from their surrounding land, and shards of old broken pots now to become the strengthening temper, the clay is soaked, rolled and coiled to make a new pot. Local plants provide the paints and dyes, and even the paint brushes needed. Pots are polished and fired, sometimes in age-old outside adobe ovens. All of these processes reunite the ancient and the new within a vessel of present remembrance.

The pueblo best-known for its pottery is Zia pueblo. One of the distinctive marks of a Zia pot, the Zia bird appears on much of the pueblo's pottery. Another recognizable element, a single or double band called the 'rainbow band' runs from the top of the pot to the lower area. Flower motifs are also popular.

Though other forms exist, San Ildefonso pueblo is best-known for three basic styles: one black, one red, and the other black-on-black, the technique developed and made famous by Maria Martinez and her husband Julian during the early twentieth century. A stylized feather motif is an image strongly associated with the San Ildefonso pueblo.

Most Hopi pottery is immediately identifiable by its complex geometric designs, highly stylized birds and feathers, and distinctive color. Iron in the clay and outdoor firing produce variations of the distinctive yellowish hue of its slip.

Acoma pueblo is renowned for its striking white-slipped ware (black-and-white pottery of fine line design) but has also produced substantial amounts of black and orange designs. Also common to Acoma is polychrome pottery in fine line designs, animal motifs, and interlocking scrolls. Black-and-white designs at Acoma are often optical illusions that tease the eye of the beholder.



© U.S. Postal Service. All rights reserved.

Happy Halloween! The United States Postal Service issued five 32-cent Classic Movie Monsters commemorative stamps on Sep...
10/31/2023

Happy Halloween! The United States Postal Service issued five 32-cent Classic Movie Monsters commemorative stamps on September 30, 1997, in Universal City, California.

The stamps feature five legendary movie monsters and pay tribute to the actors who portrayed them. Featured on the sheet are Bela Lugosi as Dracula, Lon Chaney as The Phantom of the Opera, Lon Chaney, Jr., as The Wolf Man, and Boris Karloff as both The Mummy and Frankenstein's monster. The selvage also contains a photograph of each actor and his signature.

Designed by Derry Noyes of Washington, DC, and illustrated by Thomas Blackshear of Colorado Springs, Colorado, the stamps were issued in a pane of twenty and printed by Stamp Venturers, Inc., in the gravure process.

Copyright United States Postal Service. All rights reserved.

10/31/2023

The museum will close at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, November 4, with the last entry at 4:00 p.m., in preparation for the Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Awards ceremony. We apologize for any inconvenience.

In 1992, the United States Postal Service issued a pane of 50 stamps, each depicting a different American wildflower. Th...
10/25/2023

In 1992, the United States Postal Service issued a pane of 50 stamps, each depicting a different American wildflower. This series proved to be so popular that the USPS followed up with a colorful stamp booklet for each season honoring garden flowers. Starting with the spring issue, the booklets were produced from 1993 to 1996. The artwork for each of these beautiful garden scenes depicts five seasonal flowers clustered together in bouquet format.

The selected fall blooms were the aster, chrysanthemum, dahlia, hydrangea, and the rudbeckia. Including hydrangea as a fall flowering plant illustrates the difficulty of seasonal categories, since this flower is sometimes regarded as a late spring or summer bloom. What is currently growing in your garden?

©United States Postal Service. All rights reserved.

Loan from United States Postal Service, Postmaster General’s Collection

Check out a brand new episode of the Smithsonian Sidedoor Podcast featuring National Postal Museum curator Lynn Heidelba...
10/16/2023

Check out a brand new episode of the Smithsonian Sidedoor Podcast featuring National Postal Museum curator Lynn Heidelbaugh!

Looks like these criminals used correct postage, 'cause justice is about to be delivered. Okay, there are no snappy one-liners in this crime scene investigation, but there are explosions, collisions, manhunts, and even a cow who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. On the centennial of the "Last Great Train Robbery," we re-examine the evidence to find out how U.S. Postal Inspectors tracked down a band of old school outlaws using cutting edge criminal forensics...and postmarked them for prison.

Re-examine evidence from "The Last Great Train Robbery" to find out how U.S. Postal Inspectors tracked down a band of old school outlaws.

Hispanic people have had a profound impact on the history and culture of the United States and continue to demonstrate e...
10/14/2023

Hispanic people have had a profound impact on the history and culture of the United States and continue to demonstrate excellence in many areas including politics, public service, music, film, sports, business, science, and the military. The significant contributions of Hispanic people and events have been honored on numerous United States postage stamps. This virtual exhibition showcases these contributions through the lens of the American postage stamp. https://postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibition/celebrating-hispanic-heritage

Desde que los primeros exploradores y colonos españoles desembarcaron en las Américas, los hispanos han dado forma a la historia y a la cultura de los Estados Unidos y de América Latina. En la actualidad, los hispanos continúan demostrando excelencia en muchas áreas, como la política, el servicio público, la música, el cine, los deportes, los negocios, la ciencia, y el servicio militar. Las importantes contribuciones de los hispanos y sus acontecimientos, han sido honrados en numerosos sellos de correos estadounidenses. Esta exposición virtual muestra esas contribuciones a través del lente de la estampilla postal estadounidense. https://postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibition/celebrando-la-herencia-hispana

The museum's main entrance is located on the corner of First Street and Massachusetts Avenue NE. Other entrances have variable hours.

On October 11, 1923, the holdup of Southern Pacific Train 13 at Tunnel 13 in the Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon r...
10/11/2023

On October 11, 1923, the holdup of Southern Pacific Train 13 at Tunnel 13 in the Siskiyou Mountains of southern Oregon resulted in the murders of three railway employees and a mail clerk. A new virtual exhibition examines the tragic case and legacy in a visual essay of records and artifacts drawn from the United States Postal Inspection Service, the Southern Oregon Historical Society, and the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum: https://postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibition/tragedy-at-tunnel-13.

You can find information on the events page: https://postalmuseum.si.edu/exhibition/tragedy-at-tunnel-13/events, about a free public program taking place this evening, October 11, in Ashland, Oregon, as well as podcast episodes produced by members of a national consortium commemorating

The logo for this virtual exhibition is a variation of a 2023 pictorial postmark designed by retired U.S Postal Inspector Dan Mihalko in commemoration of the centennial.

October 10th marks the centennial and christening of the airship USS Shenandoah. You can see a Shenandoah cover from the...
10/11/2023

October 10th marks the centennial and christening of the airship USS Shenandoah. You can see a Shenandoah cover from the November 20, 1923 flight on exhibit in the National Postal Museum’s William H. Gross Gallery and find out more about how the crew "dropped" this mail for delivery and the history of the Shenandoah in a new online interactive story through the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution at: https://airandspace.si.edu/explore/stories/uss-shenandoah-interactive

Dropped mail found in Worcester, MA, and delivered in November 1923 (Courtesy of The Benjamin K. Miller Stamp Collection, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations).

The political, economic and cultural life of Indigenous Americans – founded in ancient tradition and tested by wars, gen...
10/10/2023

The political, economic and cultural life of Indigenous Americans – founded in ancient tradition and tested by wars, genocide, forcible removals, and abject discrimination – has demonstrated its fortitude for centuries. Keys to this extraordinary resilience are found in the wisdom and bravery of its historic leaders, the ability of individuals to rise to the national and international spotlight, and the continuum of exceptional creativity in the arts. The qualities of contemporary Native leaders and artists are founded in the heritage of their historic predecessors.

From architecture to ceramics, textile weaving to dancing, the arts of indigenous Americans speak of universal worldviews, creation and other classic stories. These varied art forms illuminate a collective relationship to the Natural World and exemplify endurance through the restoration of time-tried concepts and values as well as a perpetual renaissance of classic expressions and creations.

The “Art of the American Indian” commemorative stamps were issued on August 21, 2004, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This issue demonstrates the diverse ways in which Indigenous Americans, in their everyday lives, created utilitarian, social, spiritual, and commercial objects that were also extraordinary expressions of beauty. Featuring photographs of artifacts that date from around the 11th century to circa 1969, these lively stamps illustrate the talent, ingenuity, and artistic skills of America’s first people.


©USPS; all rights reserved.

In the event of a government shutdown on Oct. 1, Smithsonian museums, research centers and the National Zoo will remain ...
09/29/2023

In the event of a government shutdown on Oct. 1, Smithsonian museums, research centers and the National Zoo will remain OPEN through at least Oct. 7. The Smithsonian can use prior-year funds still available to us to remain open. Visit si.edu for updates.

Official website of the Smithsonian, the world's largest museum and research complex, with 19 museums, 9 research centers, and affiliates around the world.

Hazel Wightman (1886-1974) led women’s tennis in the early 20th century and was known for her unparalleled sportsmanship...
09/20/2023

Hazel Wightman (1886-1974) led women’s tennis in the early 20th century and was known for her unparalleled sportsmanship. Wightman began playing tennis in 1902, before it was a popular women’s sport. During her long career, she won dozens of titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles competitions, including U.S. championships in all three categories from 1909-1911. She considered among her greatest victories the two gold medals she won in the 1924 Olympic Games. Wightman created the Wightman Cup, an international women’s amateur competition that continues today. Hazel continued to play tennis throughout her life, winning her last national title in doubles at the age of 56. The United States Postal Service issued this Hazel Wightman stamp in 1990.



©USPS. All rights reserved.

Learn about how Latinas and Latinos have shaped the nation in 's “¡Presente! A Latino History of the United States” at ....
09/16/2023

Learn about how Latinas and Latinos have shaped the nation in 's “¡Presente! A Latino History of the United States” at .

¡PRESENTE! A Latino History of the United States online experience

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