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Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Washington, DC
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Interests: people, postage and the post
Recent Activity
By Nancy Pope, Curator and Historian Letter carriers on strike outside the main New York City post office Just before midnight on March 17, 1970, a letter carriers’ local disobeyed national leadership and voted to strike. The National Letter Carrier’s Union, Branch 36, had been discussing the action for days. Frustrated, they decided to act on their own – a wildcat strike. Issues of poor pay and working conditions affected postal workers nation-wide and before long a number of employees across the U.S. joined the strike. Workers were frustrated by low pay that left seven percent of New York City’s... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at National Postal Museum
By Nancy Pope, Historian and Curator Postmaster General Arthur E. Summerfield’s official portrait by Thomas E. Stephens. Arthur E. Summerfield, born March 17, 1889, was the 57th Postmaster General of the United States, serving from 1953 to 1961 under President Eisenhower. Summerfield had served as the Republican Party’s chairman prior to Eisenhower’s election. And, as was an unspoken tradition of the time, Eisenhower rewarded one of his party’s major players with the position of Postmaster General. While that tradition did not always work out well, Eisenhower could not have made a better choice. Summerfield became Postmaster General at a time... Continue reading
Posted Mar 17, 2017 at National Postal Museum
By Ren Cooper, Marketing Assistant 2017 marks the centennial of America’s engagement in World War I, also referred to as the Great War. The National Postal Museum will present a special exhibition to commemorate and reflect upon this anniversary. My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I features personal correspondence to and from the front lines, thereby illuminating accounts of love, life and death in the tumultuous time of war. The presence of General John J. Pershing, commander of the American Expeditionary Forces overseas from 1917-1918, can be felt throughout the exhibition. “My Fellow Soldiers” is the opening line of... Continue reading
Posted Mar 1, 2017 at National Postal Museum
You’re invited to the National Postal Museum’s annual Valentine’s Day Card Workshop! Join us this Saturday, February 11th from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Continue reading
Posted Feb 9, 2017 at National Postal Museum
The National Postal Museum is happy to host two guest bloggers – Deborah Fisher and Kellen Diamanti – who recently spent a chunk of time in the National Postal Museum’s library collecting information for their forthcoming book about the famed Inverted Jenny, entitled Stamp of the Century. Continue reading
Posted Jan 19, 2017 at National Postal Museum
On Saturday, December 10th, the National Postal Museum hosted its Annual Holiday Card Workshop. The museum was packed with participants of all ages who spent the day creating unique holiday greetings for their friends and families. We'd like to share with you some of our favorite photos from the day! Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2016 at National Postal Museum
Dan Piazza, Chief Curator of Philately at the National Postal Museum, was recently interviewed by ABC News as part of their behind-the-scenes at the museum series. The National Postal Museum showcased several items from deep within our vault, all centered on the theme of baseball. ABC’s Rick Klein, a devoted baseball enthusiast, and Piazza had a lively conversation on the history and significance of the objects. The backdrop for the interview was fittingly the baseball section of our New York City: A Portrait through Stamp Art exhibition, which is on view at the museum through March 2017. Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2016 at National Postal Museum
The National Postal Museum’s newest exhibition “Trailblazing: 100 Years of Our National Parks” is filled with amazing artifacts telling the story of our National Parks and its relations to the history of the United States Postal Service and philately. One of the objects chosen for the exhibition is the stamp album once belonging to famous photographer, Ansel Adams. Because of Adams’ portrayal of the natural world and National Parks in his photographs, having his stamp collection in the “Trailblazing” exhibition was a great fit. The curators wanted to display the album open to show the colorful and expressive array of stamps Adams had collected; but, before that could be done, the album needed conservation treatment. Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2016 at National Postal Museum
Everybody loves getting mail. But how many of you have celebrated that mail by creating a monument to the service? The citizens of Climax, Michigan did. Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2016 at National Postal Museum
Have you ever wondered how a museum exhibit is installed? Take a look behind the scenes at the National Postal Museum’s newest exhibition “Trailblazing: 100 Years of Our National Parks.” Once the objects and design is selected, the hands on work begins. In the following photographs, you will see museum staff and contractors install graphics, props and objects--thereby transforming our historic Postmaster Suite into an engaging space that evokes the look and feel of our parks. Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2016 at National Postal Museum
In elementary school, I learned what a bibliography was. In middle school, I practiced citation formats for books, and newspapers, and journal articles. In high school, I adopted different citation styles for different academic disciplines. In college, I began to fuss about periods in bibliographies and commas in footnotes. This summer, I am interning at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, and because of the trials-and-travails of research I have a new appreciation for the importance of citations. Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2016 at National Postal Museum
When I was about 4, I had an obsession with mail. I’m not exactly sure why, but it probably had to do with the avid attention I paid to the “Mailtime” segment on Blue’s Clues. I absolutely loved writing letters, sticking on stamps, and placing them in the big blue mail box in front of my town post office. Hence, when I applied to and eventually accepted a summer internship with the National Postal Museum, my mother wasn’t surprised in the least. Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2016 at National Postal Museum
This Sunday, July 24th, 2016, marks the 119th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s birth. Here at the National Postal Museum, we are proud to have on exhibit one of Amelia Earhart’s flight suits. It is leather and wool lined to protect the pilot from the cold temperatures of high altitudes. The National Postal Museum also possesses Earhart’s personal collection of flown mail with photographs. Earhart raised funds for her flights by carrying and autographing special letters that were then sold as collectors’ items to philatelists. Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2016 at National Postal Museum
I don’t think I’ve ever read so many novels as I have working on this project. But what book nerd could ask for anything more? I get to sit and read novels every day, plus I get to look through old newspapers and book reviews -- AKA wins. But before I started this project with the National Postal Museum, I didn’t even know what the term “epistolary novel” meant (it means novels that are comprised of letters, FYI). Now, just two months later, I’ve perused 20 of them. Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2016 at National Postal Museum
The National Postal Museum recently hosted a Family Day with SpongeBob SquarePants. The event originated from a collaboration with Nickelodeon and the United States Postal Service, and sought to encourage letter writing and philately in children, educate participants about marine life, and provide engaging entertainment for the whole family. As soon as the museum opened at 10:00 a.m., it was packed with visitors of all ages! Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2016 at National Postal Museum
Join us this Saturday for the National Postal Museum’s Family Day with Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants! The museum will be decked out like Bikini Bottom—SpongeBob’s underwater home—and filled with fun activities for the whole family. Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2016 at National Postal Museum
Last summer, the National Postal Museum was fortunate enough to host two fantastic interns – Aleida Fernandez and Ellyse Stauffer – who worked over the course of three months with curator and historian Nancy Pope. Each had their own research project, which resulted in interesting and informative articles currently featured on the National Postal Museum’s website. Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2016 at National Postal Museum
Here at the National Postal Museum, we are getting really excited about a very unique public program. On Saturday, June 25, 2016, you’re invited to the National Postal Museum’s Family Day with Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants in celebration of the 2013 SpongeBob MailPants program and the induction of a special-edition SpongeBob mailbox into the museum’s collection. Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2016 at National Postal Museum
On June 9th, 2016, the National Postal Museum is proud to open “Trailblazing: 100 Years of Our National Parks.” This exhibition commemorates the centennial of America’s National Park Service, a federal agency created by Congress on August 25, 1916. The National Postal Museum will also host a National Parks Family Fun Day on Saturday, June 11th from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. to celebrate this brand new exhibition. Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2016 at National Postal Museum
Sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Dog Bite Prevention Week occurs each year during the third full week of May. The purpose is to promote safety and education when it comes to dog bites and dog bite prevention. AVMA estimates that over 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year, approximately half of whom are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2016 at National Postal Museum
In 2015, Katie Burke, a museum specialist at the National Postal Museum, vacationed in Hawaii. During her time in Molokai, she made sure to mail herself a coconut. That’s right–a coconut. Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2016 at National Postal Museum
Finding information about how to preserve your collection can be challenging, but the National Postal Museum has made that easier. Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2016 at National Postal Museum
Join the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum as we celebrate National Preservation Week! Founded in 2010 by the American Libraries Association, National Preservation Week (April 24-April 30) is dedicated to the preservation of our personal and shared collections, which aid us in our understanding of history, culture, and each other. With over 6 million objects, the National Postal Museum has among the largest collections within the Smithsonian Institution. Our trusty preservation team has preserved a wide range of artifacts – from stamps and covers to vehicles to Owney the Dog! – and kept them safe since the Postal Museum opened in 1993. Continue reading
Posted Apr 26, 2016 at National Postal Museum
How many times a day does your letter carrier stop by with your mail? Well once, of course. It might surprise you to learn that before 1950 carriers in some cities made several trips to homes and businesses each day. For decades the prevailing rule for mail deliveries was set in Section 92 of the 1873 Postal Laws and Regulations book. It stated that carriers would make deliveries “as frequently as the public convenience may require.” The phrase was left open to interpretation by postmasters. Just what did “the public convenience” require in their cities? Continue reading
Posted Apr 16, 2016 at National Postal Museum
These days, letter writing is a lost art. But I’m asking you to consider picking up a pen and paper and taking a few minutes to write a letter to someone. Why? Well for one it’s a way to spend some calm and thoughtful time doing something different and productive. Also because April is National Letter Writing month. A letter is a gift. When you have taken the time to write a letter – not grabbing your phone to jot a quick text, but actually write a letter – you are demonstrating to a recipient that he or she is important to you. So dig out those pens and paper and get to writing! Continue reading
Posted Apr 12, 2016 at National Postal Museum