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Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Washington, DC
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Interests: people, postage and the post
Recent Activity
By Manda Kowalczyk, Preservation Specialist Happy Preservation Week! Founded in 2010 by the American Libraries Association (ALA) to bring awareness to the need for preservation of collections in libraries, museums and other cultural institutions, this year’s Preservation Week theme focuses on textile preservation. Although we have a large philatelic collection at the National Postal Museum, we also care for vehicles, a dog and objects worn by postal workers like badges, mailbags and uniforms! Recently we acquired a uniform consisting of a shirt and trousers worn by Vivian Campbell who was a sales and associate clerk at the Peach Springs Post... Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at National Postal Museum
By Nancy Pope, Historian and Curator “Pop” Hanshue passing a mailbag to Fred Kelly, one of Western Air’s first pilots. The two seats in front of Kelly could hold passengers in addition to mail. But it was the mail contracts that financed the company’s growth. The Post Office Department operated the national airmail service from 1918 to 1926. That year they began turning control over to private operators. The transformation of government run airmail service to privately operated lines signaled the beginning days of America’s commercial aviation industry. Routes flown within the United States were designated as CAM (Contract Air... Continue reading
Posted Apr 17, 2017 at National Postal Museum
By Ren Cooper, Marketing Assistant The National Postal Museum is pleased to announce its newest exhibition My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I which opened today, exactly 100 years after America declared war on Germany and joined the Allied forces in their fight against the Central Powers. Once considered the war to end all wars, this international conflict redefined nations and ushered in the modern era. More than 17 million military personnel and civilians are estimated to have perished; overall casualties total approximately 38 million. Notwithstanding these staggering statistics, My Fellow Soldiers… uses original letters to examine WWI through... Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2017 at National Postal Museum
By Matthew White, Director of Education The National Postal Museum’s (NPM) Department of Education & Visitor Services is always a creative, bustling, and productive place. Team members can be found planning and hosting public events, training volunteers, preparing curricula and craft supplies, or leading school children around the museum. It’s not only what we do, it’s what we love to do! February is particularly busy for the department due to Valentine’s Day and Black History Month, which we celebrate and honor each year with topical programming. This February was remarkable not only because our programs achieved record-breaking attendance numbers for... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2017 at National Postal Museum
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 Mar 23, 2017 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