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Smithsonian National Postal Museum
Washington, DC
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Interests: people, postage and the post
Recent Activity
By Ren Cooper, Marketing Assistant 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! Enthusiastic visitors, ready to go, arrive at the Welcome Station. The museum provided a few samples (we love making holiday cards, too!). Perhaps even more challenging than the actual card-making is choosing which supplies to use! Thoughtful selections are made from various stations set up... Continue reading
Posted Dec 19, 2016 at National Postal Museum
By Ren Cooper, Marketing Assistant 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... Continue reading
Posted Nov 4, 2016 at National Postal Museum
By Rebecca Kennedy, Preservation Specialist Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park, circa 1950. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service. 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... Continue reading
Posted Oct 5, 2016 at National Postal Museum
By Nancy Pope, Historian and Curator 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. The town, situated between Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, was established by Judge Caleb Eldred in 1834. On December 3, 1896, Climax received the state’s first Rural Free Delivery* (RFD) service. RFD was still in its experimental phase, having just begun that October with a handful of routes in West Virginia. Daniel B. Eldred (the Judge’s great grandson) was the town’s postmaster and hired Lewis Clark and Willis Lawrence... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2016 at National Postal Museum
By Patricia Raynor, Loan Coordinator 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. The larger objects were handled by contractors from Brigid Mountmaking under the watchful eye of National Postal Museum preservation... Continue reading
Posted Aug 19, 2016 at National Postal Museum
By Caly McCarthy, Curatorial Intern The author-- calm, cool, and collected when researchers cite their work properly -- in front of the 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... Continue reading
Posted Aug 9, 2016 at National Postal Museum
By Veronica La Du, Curatorial Intern The main post office in Miami, FL in 1939. Taken by Marion Post during her travels with the FSA. 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,... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2016 at National Postal Museum
By Ren Cooper, Marketing Assistant 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. Courtesy of United States Postal Service A native of Kansas, Earhart... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2016 at National Postal Museum
By Olivia Haas, Curatorial Intern Olivia inside the Railway Post Office at the 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... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2016 at National Postal Museum
By Katie Burke and Ren Cooper 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! Photo by Motoko Hioki Several interactive stations were set up throughout the museum. One of the most popular was “Greetings from Bikini Bottom,” a post card writing activity.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2016 at National Postal Museum
By Ren Cooper 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. ©2016 Viacom International Inc. Created by Stephen Hillenburg From 10 am – 5 pm you’ll get a chance to: Meet SpongeBob SquarePants Play nautical-themed games Build a sand castle with kinetic sand Contribute to a deep sea community mural Send SpongeBob postcards Pose for pictures in a Bikini Bottom photo booth And much more The festival will feature screenings of SpongeBob SquarePants episodes... Continue reading
Posted Jun 20, 2016 at National Postal Museum
By Ren Cooper 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. Anthony Comstock, 1844-1915 Aleida Fernandez delved into the rich history of the Anthony Comstock’s various crusades against “vice.” In her own words: “In the second half of the 19th century, New York City was a battleground between pious reformers and the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2016 at National Postal Museum
©2016 Viacom International Inc. Created by Stephen Hillenburg. By Ren Cooper 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. The event is from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. Admission is free! Image courtesy of Himmelrich PR. The museum will be decked out like Bikini Bottom—SpongeBob’s underwater home—and filled with fun activities for the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 1, 2016 at National Postal Museum
Special Family Day to Correspond with Exhibition By Ren Cooper John Pack places mail into a box at Natural Bridges National Monument serviced by star route from Blanding, Utah, circa 1976. Photo courtesy of Smithsonian Institution Libraries, National Postal Museum Library. 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. Featuring objects from the museum’s philatelic collection, as well as original postage stamp art from the U.S. Postal Service and... Continue reading
Posted May 24, 2016 at National Postal Museum
May 15-21, 2016 By Ren Cooper 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. [1] Dog attacks are also one of the main safety challenges faced by the United States Postal Service. At a press conference last week, USPS Safety... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2016 at National Postal Museum
By Ren Cooper Katie and her coconut. Each stamp was chosen with care. 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. In theory, anything with proper postage and a legible address will be delivered by the United States Postal Service, with the exception of dangerous or illegal items. In fact, the history of mailing coconuts is rich and varied. Coconuts have primarily been sent as novel versions of postcards from tropical lands. However, there are several interesting... Continue reading
Posted May 11, 2016 at National Postal Museum
By Kevin Whaley, National Postal Museum Intern Finding information about how to preserve your collection can be challenging, but the National Postal Museum has made that easier. Over the last several months, the Preservation staff has worked to redesign and update its website to make it more accessible and relevant for our visitors. The website is simply: Rehousing artifacts in a pH-neutral archival box Often, one of the hardest and most important parts of preserving a collection is choosing the right materials for storing and displaying your collection. Articles and resources are available on the Preservation website to help... Continue reading
Posted May 2, 2016 at National Postal Museum
Thursday, April 28, 2016 | 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.| Lower Level Atrium, National Postal Museum | Free By Ren Cooper 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 –... 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
Harry Conley Sherlock was a former Royal Air Corps pilot who had been attached to a day bombing squadron during World War I. He joined the U.S. Airmail Service on February 12, 1920. Sherlock was single, and lived with his mother in East Orange, NJ. His first assignment was to College Park, MD, which served as the Washington, D.C. airmail field. After a crash there, he came face to face with the strict, unforgiving rules of Second Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger's management. Sherlock was penalized 10 flying hours for "poor judgment while making a landing on March 10 at College Park.” Sherlock had overshot his landing field and hit a mud hole, breaking the propeller, lower right wing and landing gear fitting. The reprimand continued by noting that “It is believed that this will be sufficient as he shows promise of being a very good pilot.” So, in spite of that rough start, Sherlock was assigned to the more important Bellefonte, PA - Newark, NJ leg of the service. Continue reading
Posted Mar 29, 2016 at National Postal Museum
After an historic and triumphant beginning in 1918, the U.S. airmail service settled into a series of experimental growth spurts. The original Washington-Philadelphia-New York City route was followed by a route connecting the nation’s two large financial centers, New York City and Chicago, and finally followed by connecting Chicago and San Francisco. Part of the Chicago-San Francisco airmail route even followed the old Pony Express route. Continue reading
Posted Feb 22, 2016 at National Postal Museum
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
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
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