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Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Washington, DC
Email Us: NPMBlog@si.edu
Interests: people, postage and the post
Recent Activity
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Sunday was Ben Franklin’s 310th birthday. He was born on January 17, 1706 in Boston. While others may celebrate the man for flying a kite in a thunderstorm or advocating the turkey as a national symbol (1), the Postal Museum celebrates his many contributions to postal history while he served as postmaster general under both the British crown and the Continental Congress of the fledgling United States. Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2016 at National Postal Museum
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As part of the George Washington University’s Museum Studies Program, each student spends two semester interning at different museums getting hands on experience in a museum. This last semester (Fall 2015) I spent my internship in the Preservation Department of the National Postal Museum. During this experience I learned invaluable skills relating to collections management, preservation, and overall museum conduct. Continue reading
Posted Jan 5, 2016 at National Postal Museum
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As a graduate student pursuing a career in the museum world, I was searching for hands-on experience working directly with museum collections. Fortunately, I was offered a collections management internship with the Preservation department of the National Postal Museum (NPM) for the fall 2015 semester. The skills NPM staff have helped me develop over the past four months are invaluable, and my experience at the museum has been nothing short of incredible. Continue reading
Posted Dec 22, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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This year, the US Postal Service predicted December 14 would be the busiest mailing day of 2015. And no doubt consumers and businesses across the country are hard at work trying to make that come true. December has long been a busy month for the Postal Service, but the 21st century has brought some interesting changes when it comes to mail. Where once the mail was filled with cards and some packages, the tables are turning. While letter volume (including Christmas cards) has gone done, package volume is soaring. And you’re a part of that trend if you’ve ever bought something online and had it delivered. Continue reading
Posted Dec 14, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® is one of the most iconic annual parades in American cultural lore. This New York City parade -- complete with a myriad of giant balloons, dancers, floats, cheerleaders, marching bands, clowns and celebrity performers and, of course, Santa Claus, ushers in America’s holiday spending season. The first Macy’s parade took place on Christmas Day in 1924 and served as a means to attract customers to the Macy’s store in New York City. For this inaugural parade Macy’s employees (of whom many were immigrants) dressed as clowns, cowboys and assorted fun characters, and the parade included animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo. Approximately 250,000 people attended this parade. In 1927, Macy’s parade organizers began using giant balloons, starting with the introduction of Felix the Cat, instead of live animals. Now the 89th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade® will attract 3.5 million spectators and will entertain more than 50 million television viewers. The three-hour Thanksgiving Day TV show has received at least twelve Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement since 1979. Continue reading
Posted Nov 23, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum is unveiling an exhibition of original artwork Dec. 10 titled, “New York City: A Portrait Through Stamp Art.” On display through Mar. 13, 2017, 30 pieces of original artwork will be publically displayed for the first time, celebrating the influence of New York City on American society. Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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The Sidney N. Shure Collection is approximately 100 albums of stamps and postal history material from Israel and Palestine. It is an extensive collection of which we will be imaging 1,000 pages this week. I have already written about what a Rapid Capture project is, and how we were able to catalogue this important collection this past summer. This blog post is about the 3,600 barcodes we chose to associate with these objects. Continue reading
Posted Oct 2, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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Ames was a steady and reliable pilot who had his share of forced landings, including a particularly frightening one on September 26, 1922. While flight testing a de Havilland airplane out of Hazelhurst Field, New York, Ames reported that "the con rod in cylinder number four, right, broke, one piece going through the crank case and starting the motor on fire while in the air." Flying over Westbury, New York, at the time, Ames responded well to the crisis. "After cutting motor and turning on pressure pyrene tank [fire extinguisher], I landed the ship ok in plowed rolling field and tried to put out fire with my hand pyrene, which was impossible. When the flames reached center section and gravity tank I left ship which burned to the ground." Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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At the outset of this project, the Sidney N. Shure Collection was very nicely housed in high quality, archival three-ring binders, which we call albums. Each album represented a distinct subject area, and was preserved in the arrangement Mr. Shure had originally created. We knew approximately what objects we might find in any given album, but very little of that information was catalogued in our database. We would only have the opportunity to image 1,000 album pages during our Rapid Capture week, but I wanted to take this chance to digitize as much of the collection as possible. Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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In preparing for our Mass Digitization project, I have felt an increasing interest in our famed collector, Mr. Sidney N. Shure. I knew he had a massive stamp collection, and I knew of his association with the Shure microphone company. But who was Mr. Shure? I went to our accession files to find some answers. Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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The National Postal Museum has been working closely with the Smithsonian Digitization Program Office this past summer, preparing one of our international specialized collections, the Sidney N. Shure Collection, for a Rapid Capture digitization project. We have almost 100 albums in this collection of Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian stamps and covers mounted on album pages. With each album averaging 50 pages needing to be numbered, catalogued and entered into our collection database, The Museum System (TMS), we had a lot of work! Continue reading
Posted Sep 29, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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We at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum work very hard to keep our exhibitions exciting and new, so our visitors can see as much of our impressive collection as possible. But we cannot put everything on display in our museum. We have some amazing collections in our storage areas that are just waiting to be seen! One of these is the Sidney N. Shure Collection of stamps and covers from Israel and Palestine. Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum announces a special showing of the world’s most famous and valuable stamp—the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta—at the World Stamp Show–NY 2016. The special showing will take place May 28–June 3, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City. Admission is free throughout all eight days of the show. Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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Do you have questions about stamps, stamp collecting or the history of the postal service? Would you like to find out what our curators love about their jobs, or which exhibits have been their favorites? Well, now’s your chance -– the Postal Museum is participating in “Ask A Curator Day” once again! Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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On September 12, 1857 mail steamer “Central America” sunk off the coast of South Carolina after being caught in a hurricane. More than 450 people died when the ship sank. But what keeps the “Central America” (originally named the “S.S. George Law”) in the nation’s consciousness is not the loss of life, but the loss of cargo. In addition to tons of mail heading from California to New York the ship carried tons of gold from the California gold fields. Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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On September 5, 1918, two airmail pilots, Max Miller and Eddie Gardner, prepared to make separate flights from New York to Chicago. Their job was to find the best flight path between the nation’s two largest cities. In connecting New York and Chicago by air, the Post Office Department would be able to shave hours off of the time it took to deliver mail between the cities, a tremendous benefit for businesses and individuals at a time when mail was the central communication source. Continue reading
Posted Sep 4, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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Kane Photo This has been a landmark year for the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum as we continue to preserve, study, and present postal history and philately at no cost to our visitors. In February, we opened a new exhibit, "Freedom Just Around the Corner: Black America from Civil War to Civil Rights," examining the African American experience from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement through the unique lens of philatelic material and postal history. In June, we installed the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, the world's rarest and most famous postage stamp, on long-term public display for the first time in its storied history. By July, we increased our outreach through education programs by nearly half over this time last year. All of these achievements were celebrated by the public, in the press, and online at public review websites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor. Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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My internship at the National Postal Museum has been seriously amazing! I was the intern for the Preservation Department under the direction of Linda Edquist (Head of Preservation), Rebecca Kennedy (Preservation Specialist), and Manda Kowalczyk (Preservation Specialist). Over the course of my time I learned about preservation standards, such as monitoring environmental and light level readings; creating four-flap enclosures, sink mats, and humidification chambers; preparing objects for exhibition by backing and wrapping or encapsulation; and engaging visitors about the 10 Agents of Deterioration. In particular, my internship focused on rehousing a series of glass negatives from various collections and the Raymond Gaillaguet Collection, which also required cataloguing. Continue reading
Posted Aug 10, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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For the past nine weeks, I have had the pleasure of being an intern at the National Postal Museum, in the Curation Department. This internship has been an opportunity of a lifetime! The more internships I do in this field, the more I find a passion for my work. Internships like the National Postal Museum make me very excited for future opportunities, and working with the curator, Nancy Pope, has led to an incredible summer. My focus this summer has been researching and writing about the Highway Post Offices (HPO). My main goal was to tell the story of the HPO bus #1, which is in NPM storage. The article will be put on the website and is the first piece of mine that will be for public viewing. All my past education has led me to this moment, and I hope to make my supervisors proud of the work that I have done. Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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The National Postal Museum today opened PostSecret: The Power of a Postcard. The exhibition communicates a contemporary narrative of mail and the postal service, highlighting the aesthetics of the communication tool itself and the juxtaposition between anonymity and shared experiences. It also demonstrates a unique relationship between mail, digital technology and social media. The exhibition will be open through September 2016. Continue reading
Posted Aug 3, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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I had the pleasure of working with the Preservation Department for a brief three week internship. I focused on two main projects, rehousing postal service badges, and conducting visitor observations. Rehousing, is when you create safe or secure housing for an object. In doing this, I learned the process of how to safely store artifacts, as well as how to make the proper sink mats to house them. Continue reading
Posted Jun 15, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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The world’s most famous and valuable stamp, the British Guiana One-Cent Magenta, is now on display that the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. Prominently showcased in the museum’s William H. Gross Stamp Gallery, the stamp will be on display until November 2017, the longest and most publicly accessible showing ever. Continue reading
Posted Jun 4, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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On a beautiful spring morning in 1918 thousands of people were on hand to view a pilot take off from Potomac Park, Washington, D.C. The pilot, Lieutenant George Leroy Boyle, would be carrying sacks of mail to begin the nation’s first regularly scheduled airmail service. Boyle was one of a handful of Army Air Corps pilots were tapped to fly the mail for the Post Office Department that day. Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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The 10 Agents of Deterioration are the most common and preventable problems that cause permanent harm to any collection, no matter if you are in a museum or at home. Being aware of these “agents” allows collectors to create a plan for the long term care and preservation for their artifacts. The 10 agents are: Fire, Water, Pest, Physical Force, Neglect, Theft and Vandalism, Incorrect Temperature, Incorrect Humidity, Chemical Deterioration, and Light. Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2015 at National Postal Museum
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On May 1, cultural institutions around the country will participate in MayDay, a day initiated by Heritage Preservation to promote disaster preparedness and the care of artifacts. In honor of this day, the preservation and education departments have collaborated to create a matching game to engage and educate the public about the 10 Agents of Deterioration. Continue reading
Posted Apr 24, 2015 at National Postal Museum