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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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When you visit a museum, you stroll through the halls and rooms inspecting objects. After you have seen all there is to be seen, you leave. But what if the museum left the halls and rooms behind? What if the museum came to you? Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at National Postal Museum
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Cobb Island is a small community in southern Charles County, Maryland. Its unofficial motto is ‘life is too short to not live by the water.’ Its first Post Office opened in Elgin’s store in 1927. The current Post Office located in the Cobb Island Market building serves not only as a place to send and collect mail, but a place to meet neighbors, and share community news. The Post Office has served as the social meeting place in the community for decades. However in 2012, the Cobb Island Post Office was scheduled for closure by USPS. At a public hearing held by Post Office officials, Cobb Islanders voiced their concerns of the impact of the closure on the community and the continued need to have a Post Office on the island. USPS subsequently decided against the closure. Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2014 at National Postal Museum
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As a graduate student in the Museum Studies Program at George Washington University, I am incredibly lucky to be interning this summer at the National Postal Museum in the Preservation Department. Part of my internship project is to assist the Conservator and Preservation Specialists in preparing objects for exhibition. Recently I have been working with objects for an upcoming exhibit, "Freedom Just Around the Corner: Civil War to Civil Rights," opening February 2015. I was given the task of researching some of the art pieces of the Postmaster General’s Collection (PMG), courtesy of the United States Postal Service. Continue reading
Posted Aug 1, 2014 at National Postal Museum
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The “Behind the Badge” exhibition opened today at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. It showcases the work of one of the nation’s oldest federal law-enforcement agencies. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service dates to 1776, when Benjamin Franklin first sent a surveyor to investigate the fledging nation’s mail routes for efficiency and security. While post offices, postal employees and mail are common sights across the country, Americans may not realize that behind each is a network of U.S. postal inspectors working to keep the mail safe and empowering consumers to protect themselves and prevent crimes. A special online version of the exhibit is available on the museum’s website. Continue reading
Posted Jun 27, 2014 at National Postal Museum
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“The museum needs YOU to create a new program to increase visitation. In your team: examine the museum, identify a target audience, then create a program plan based on the audience’s needs.” This was the challenge I tasked museum professionals in Puerto Rico: to learn by doing! What better way to apply information in a workshop than by testing your skills? Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2014 at National Postal Museum
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The National Postal Museum was recently visited by David Redden, a vice president of Sotheby’s, and some precious cargo, the One-Cent Magenta from British Guiana. (Sotheby's will auction the stamp in Manhattan in June.) Mr. Redden was joined by Robert Odenweller, of the museum's Council of Philatelists, a security officer, James Barron, a reporter from the New York Times and a photographer from the paper. Continue reading
Posted May 5, 2014 at National Postal Museum
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Figure 1Fifty years ago the Beatles invaded America with a musical sound and style that permanently influenced American music. Yet their transformative sound was influenced by a variety of distinctly American musical styles, such as Rhythm and Blues, Rock and Roll, and Country and Western. As a consequence of their of influence and popularity, the USPS issued a Beatles stamp as part of the 1960s Celebrate the Century (CTC) commemorative pane issued on September 17, 1999 in Green Bay, Wisconsin (and ,incidentally, the stamp design had been unveiled at a special unveiling ceremony in Liverpool, England on August 31,1999). Continue reading
Posted Mar 27, 2014 at National Postal Museum
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The Catherine Manning Papers and Documents Finding Guide is now online. Catherine Lemmon Manning (1881-1957) curated the National Philatelic Collection for nearly thirty years, longer than anyone else in its history. Under Manning’s leadership, the philatelic collection became the largest in the National Museum’s Division of History. Throughout her life, she received many honors, including the first woman outside the sciences to achieve the title “Assistant Curator” at the Smithsonian and the first woman elected to office in the American Philatelic Society (vice president, 1935-1937). The collection includes twelve file boxes of materials, including manuscripts, exhibit pages, photographs of stamp sources, and correspondence. “The documents about women in the stamp collecting hobby and their organizations are not replicated anywhere else. This is a treasure trove of history that was nearly lost. We are grateful to her daughter-in-law Ruby Lee Robertson for this donation,” remarked Dr. Cheryl R. Ganz, Chief Curator of Philately. Continue reading
Posted Feb 27, 2014 at National Postal Museum
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On Friday, January 31, 2014 the United States Postal Service unveiled a limited-edition Forever Stamp honoring the accomplishments of Shirley Chisholm. Her stamp becomes the 37th stamp issued in the Black Heritage Series. The ceremony was conducted at the spacious Brooklyn Borough Hall in Brooklyn, New York, which was a fitting location for the event since she was born in Brooklyn and advocated for its residents most of her adult life. The ceremony attracted members of the Congressional Black Caucus and several prominent New York City community leaders and politicians. And judging from the reactions of the audience during some of the laudatory speeches, it was clear that the citizens of Brooklyn still remembered her as one of their revered public servants. Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2014 at National Postal Museum
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We had a great turn-out for our Valentine’s Day Card Workshop on Saturday, February 8th. The 430 people who participated in the program created over 800 handmade cards. Many people were also excited to learn that their mail would receive the museum’s special pictorial cancellation after mailing them from our Stamp Store. This definitely encouraged some visitors to mail their heart-felt Valentine, even if the person they were sending it to was right there with them at the time. Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2014 at National Postal Museum
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This past Veterans Day, November 11, 2013, the United States Postal Service in conjunction with the Friends of the National World War II Memorial held a first day ceremony to dedicate the two set World WAR II Medal of Honor (MOH) Stamp. The ceremony was held at the World War II Memorial and was accorded a full military dedication under a beautiful sky and cool temperatures. Continue reading
Posted Jan 15, 2014 at National Postal Museum
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December and the holidays are your last chance to view the exhibition Fire & Ice: Hindenburg and Titanic at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum. This popular exhibit closes Monday, January 6, 2014. Continue reading
Posted Dec 5, 2013 at National Postal Museum
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On Friday, August 23, 2013 at 10:30 A.M. the US Postal Service conducted a first day ceremony at the spacious Newseum for release of the 1963 March on Washington limited edition forever stamp. The Newseum was a fitting location for the event because the success and tragedies of the Civil Rights era were documented by the news media during the 1960’s. The stamp represents the final issue in a trilogy of stamps released in 2013 to commemorate civil rights events or leaders. The first Forever stamp marked the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, while the second stamp honored Rosa Parks on the 100th anniversary of her birth in February. An inspiring word appears in large type in the selvage of each stamp pane, including, “Freedom” on the Emancipation stamp sheet, “Courage” on the Parks’ stamp sheet, and “Equality” on the March on Washington stamp sheet. “Together, the 3 stamps tell a story of a journey for justice that continues to this very day.” said Ron Stroman, USPS Deputy Postmaster General. Continue reading
Posted Oct 29, 2013 at National Postal Museum
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October is Stamp Collecting Month! If it’s been a while since your childhood collecting days, or if you’ve always wanted to get into the hobby, now’s the time to do it. The National Postal Museum has a wealth of resources (http://postalmuseum.si.edu/stampcollecting/index.html) to get you (re)started – come learn more about this fun and rewarding pastime! Continue reading
Posted Oct 22, 2013 at National Postal Museum
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Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Analytical Methods in Philately Edited by Thomas Lera, John H. Barwis, and David L. Herendeen Smithsonian Contributions to History and Technology, No. 57 NOW AVAILABLE. This volume showcases papers presented at the First International Symposium on Analytical Methods in Philately, hosted by the National Postal Museum in November 2012. Readers will find insights to research methods used across the entire spectrum of philatelic interests, from composition and physical characteristics of paper, to the chemistry and mineralogy of printing ink, to determining the genuineness of stamps, overprints, and the uses of adhesives on cover. Continue reading
Posted Oct 21, 2013 at National Postal Museum
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The Smithsonian's National Postal Museum opened its new William H. Gross Stamp Gallery to the public Sunday, September 22. Thousands attended the opening day events, attracting the largest crowd since the museum's opening in 1993. Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2013 at National Postal Museum
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It seems like just yesterday that I was telling you about the thousands of objects we needed to prep and mount to exhibit panels in the National Stamp Salon of the new William H. Gross Stamp Gallery. Just about two months ago we began shipping Kivas full of panels from our offsite facility at the Office of Exhibit Central (OEC) to the National Postal Museum (NPM). After almost a year and a half of preparing objects in Mylar and mounting them to panel after panel, we have finally made it to the installation stage in our process. Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2013 at National Postal Museum
The best way to see a close-up of the button is to check out the flight suit on our collections website, Arago. Here's the link: http://arago.si.edu/index.asp?con=2&cmd=1&id=17062&img=11&pg=1. You can zoom-in on the image that shows the buttons and see them in high-res detail. Hope that's helpful!
The best way to see a close-up of the button is to check out the flight suit on our collections website, Arago. Here's the link: http://arago.si.edu/index.asp?con=2&cmd=1&id=17062&img=11&pg=1. You can zoom-in on the image that shows the buttons and see them in high-res detail. Hope that's helpful!
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The new William H. Gross Stamp Gallery is in its final stages of completion, and soon you will be able to see one of the flight suits worn by Amelia Earhart on exhibit. This leather and wool-lined suit was designed by Arnold, Constable & Company, of Paris and New York, possibly with the input of Amelia herself. It was one of the first flight suits made specifically for women, as previous uniforms worn by female pilots were retrofit from men’s suits. Continue reading
Posted Aug 23, 2013 at National Postal Museum
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It’s often hard for me to believe the National Postal Museum has been around for 20 years now. On July 30, 1993 we opened our doors to the public and hundreds streamed in that day. Twenty years and millions of visitors later, dozens of exhibit have come and gone, but the core purpose of the museum remains. We share the remarkable story of the U.S. postal system with our visitors. Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2013 at National Postal Museum
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By Nancy Pope, Historian and Curator July 1, 1963 saw the public introduction of a new way of processing our mail by adding five numbers to each address. These new Zoning Improvement Plan numbers, or ZIP Codes, were used to speed up mail processing. The Post Office Department was in dire need of all the help it could get in handling mail, the amount of which had doubled since the Second World War. Mail across the country was pouring into post offices faster than it could be processed and delivered. ZIP Codes divided the nation into delivery areas based on... Continue reading
Posted Jul 1, 2013 at National Postal Museum
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By: Patricia Raynor, Museum Specialist Are you planning a trip this summer or are you taking a college bound student on an inspection tour? A fun activity for your entire family might be to see if your destination or route has a post office with murals that were created during the depression under the Section of Fine Arts. The Section was created in 1934 and administered by the Procurement Division of the Treasury Department to select art to decorate public buildings. Of course, this included Post Offices. Whenever I’m on a trip I like to check out the local post... Continue reading
Posted Jun 24, 2013 at National Postal Museum
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In the dark of the night around 11pm Union Pacific’s Overland Limited train was stopped just south of Omaha, Nebraska by a pair of men holding pistols and wearing handkerchief masks. When the train stopped, another pair appeared and demanded the mail clerks open up the door to the mail car. They refused and one of the thieves shot out a window in the car door. The Railway Post Office clerks complied with the order, opening the door. The thieves took seven registered mail pouches from the train, sending the clerks and the train back on their way, ordering the engineer to return the train to the Omaha station. The registered mail pouches were destined for New York, Chicago and Washington, DC. Continue reading
Posted May 22, 2013 at National Postal Museum
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Almost every museum has offsite storage. As museum collections continue to grow, more spaces are needed to store all of the artifacts; this usually means finding a second, third or fourth location. In Washington, DC where real estate for storage is extremely expensive, some of the Postal Museum’s storage facilities are often miles away from the museum in industrial areas where square footage is more affordable; this is when it’s called “offsite storage”. With a collection containing items such large, motorized vehicles and heavy industrial machinery, it’s easy to run out of space quickly. All of the objects stored in these offsite locations are treated with the same standard of care as those stored at the museum. We even have space for staff to work at these offsite storage facilities where they monitor, maintain and improve storage conditions. Offsite storage is managed by the Preservation Department, but all Collections staff and Curators have full access to the spaces and artifacts. Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2013 at National Postal Museum