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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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Charles F. Shreve, 2019 Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award Winner On October 19, 2019, the National Postal Museum will celebrate three extraordinary individuals at the 8th Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Awards. The 2019 SPAA recipients are Alfredo Harp Helú, Janet R. Klug and Charles F. Shreve. In the third post of our three-part series, we’d like to spotlight one of the award winners: Charles F. Shreve. The Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award honors Americans and individuals from around the world for outstanding lifetime accomplishments in the field of philately. The achievements can include original research that significantly advances our understanding of philately and... Continue reading
Posted Oct 7, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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Janet R. Klug, 2019 Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award Winner On October 19, 2019, the National Postal Museum will celebrate three extraordinary individuals at the 8th Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Awards. The 2019 SPAA recipients are Alfredo Harp Helú, Janet R. Klug and Charles F. Shreve. In the second of a three-part series, we’d like to spotlight one of the award winners: Janet R. Klug. The Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award honors Americans and individuals from around the world for outstanding lifetime accomplishments in the field of philately. The achievements can include original research that significantly advances our understanding of philately and postal... Continue reading
Posted Sep 30, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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Alfredo Harp Helú, 2019 Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award Winner On October 19, 2019, the National Postal Museum will celebrate three extraordinary individuals at the 8th Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Awards. The 2019 SPAA recipients are Alfredo Harp Helú, Janet R. Klug and Charles F. Shreve. In the first of a three-part series, we’d like to spotlight one of the award winners: Alfredo Harp Helú. The Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Award honors Americans and individuals from around the world for outstanding lifetime accomplishments in the field of philately. The achievements can include original research that significantly advances our understanding of philately and postal... Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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On October 19, 2019, the National Postal Museum will celebrate three extraordinary individuals at the 8th Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Awards. Established in 2002, the Smithsonian Philatelic Achievement Awards celebrate outstanding lifetime achievements in the field of philately—the study and collection of postage stamps, revenue stamps, covers, postmarks, etc., and other materials related to postal history. This achievement may include original research, exceptional service to the philatelic community or sustained promotion of philately to the benefit of current and future collectors. Recipients are nominated by their peers and selected by a committee chaired by the National Postal Museum’s Chief Curator of... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By Scott W. Devine, Paper Conservator The Postmaster General (PMG) Collection includes a philatelic collection of postage stamps, die proofs, and other material related to the printing of stamps as well as an art collection. The art collection consists of original artwork, primarily works of art on paper, commissioned by the United States Postal Service (USPS) over the past 75 years for use in the design of US postage stamps. Under an agreement with the USPS, the PMG Collection has been deposited on long term loan to the National Postal Museum. Museum staff are responsible for the care and management... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By Karen Adjei; Intern, Department of Education and Visitor Services Next year, the National Postal Museum will unveil, “Baseball: America’s Home Run,” an exciting new exhibition exploring the role of baseball in American culture through the lens of postal history! This exhibit is an extension of America’s favorite pastime—baseball—and another favorite pastime throughout the world—collecting stamps (also known as philately)—which have been explored together before. Just as the upcoming exhibit will include beloved baseball players who have also been on postage stamps, the United States Postal Service (USPS) issue of the Legends of Baseball Classic Collection pane, released on July... Continue reading
Posted Aug 27, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By James R. Miller, Historian and Philatelic Genealogist The National Postal Museum is pleased to share part three of a three-part blog series by historian and philatelic genealogist James R. Miller. A presenter at the National Postal Museum's Tenth Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium, Miller is deeply engrossed in philatelic genealogy; that is, using letters, postcards, and covers to reveal family trees and other intricate, genealogical details. In "Write that Letter Home: Senders, Recipients, and the Content of World War I Correspondence," Miller illuminates the context - both personal and historical - of several WWI postcards and letters. More... Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By James R. Miller, Historian and Philatelic Genealogist The National Postal Museum is pleased to share part two of a three-part blog series by historian and philatelic genealogist James R. Miller. A presenter at the National Postal Museum's Tenth Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium, Miller is deeply engrossed in philatelic genealogy; that is, using letters, postcards, and covers to reveal family trees and other intricate, genealogical details. In "Write that Letter Home: Senders, Recipients, and the Content of World War I Correspondence," Miller illuminates the context - both personal and historical - of several WWI postcards and letters. More... Continue reading
Posted Aug 6, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By James R. Miller, Historian and Philatelic Genealogist The National Postal Museum is pleased to share part one of a three-part blog series by historian and philatelic genealogist James R. Miller. A presenter at the National Postal Museum's Tenth Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium, Miller is deeply engrossed in philatelic genealogy; that is, using letters, postcards, and covers to reveal family trees and other intricate, genealogical details. In "Write that Letter Home: Senders, Recipients, and the Content of World War I Correspondence," Miller illuminates the context - both personal and historical - of several WWI postcards and letters. More... Continue reading
Posted Aug 5, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By David S. Ball, Philatelist and Postal Historian Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage over the moon. Credit: NASA This month we celebrated the 50th anniversary of humankind’s first steps on the Moon. A half century is an interesting vantage from which many can recall the event and can begin to appreciate the significance of the mission in relation to other milestones. In the NASA history, Chariots for Apollo[i], the final words are reserved for historian Arthur Schlesinger who wrote: The 20th Century will be remembered, when all else is forgotten, as the century when man burst his terrestrial bonds[ii].... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By Shannon Chamberlain, Tosca DiBella, and Jenna Lipman; Curatorial Interns This summer, Shannon Chamberlain, Tosca DiBella, and Jenna Lipman were interns for the Curatorial Department of the National Postal Museum. They have spent two months carrying out research projects for the museum with the intent that their projects will soon be transformed into an online platform for all to see. They wanted to share a bit about their projects, as well as what they were able to take away from their experiences here at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum. Shannon using her badge perks to ride the carousel for free!... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By Nancy Pope, Curator and Historian One of the two containers used to hold the envelopes on the Regulus I missile flight. Both containers are in the National Postal Museum’s collection; one is currently on exhibit On June 8, 1959, the U.S. Post Office Department went way beyond their standard mail transportation systems. They did not use horses or dogs, trains, trucks, planes or trucks. They used a Regulus I nuclear missile. For the sake of the trial, the nuclear warhead was filled not with bombs, but with two red and blue metal containers holding 1,500 envelopes each. In the... Continue reading
Posted Jun 8, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By Nancy Pope, Curator and Historian Happy Bike to Work Day! Helping carriers bring mail to our homes and businesses has seen postal officials experimenting with a variety of vehicles. There have been four-wheeled vans, trucks and the boxy Long Life Vehicles; three-wheeled Mailsters; and two-wheeled motorcycles and bicycles. Carriers have used bikes to help carry the mail since the 1880s. Some bikes had baskets to carry the mail, and when they did not, carriers pedaled along with leather mailbags strapped over their bodies. Rural letter carriers were responsible for purchasing their own clothing and equipment, including vehicles. Carrier newsletters... Continue reading
Posted May 17, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By Nancy Pope, Curator and Historian Our annual Train Day Celebration is this Saturday, May 11th from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. This year is extra special, as it marks 150 years since the railroad was completed. But why does the National Postal Museum celebrate the start of the Transcontinental Railroad? Learn more about the history of the cross-country railroad and its relationship with the Post Office Department. 150 years ago, officials in Promontory Summit, northern Utah territory, drove a “golden spike” into the tracks in celebration of the connection of the Transcontinental Railroad, opening up the country to moving... Continue reading
Posted May 8, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By Deborah Fisher and Kellen Diamanti Editor’s note: The National Postal Museum is happy to welcome back guest bloggers Deborah Fisher and Kellen Diamanti. Fisher and Diamanti spent many hours in the National Postal Museum’s library collecting information for their book about the famed Inverted Jenny, entitled Stamp of the Century. In a two part series, the authors introduce some of the people they met along the way! American Philatelic Society, 2018. Researching a book as eclectic as Stamp of the Century gives one a good, friendly reason to look up interesting strangers. Since our book about the Scott C3a... Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By Nancy Pope, Curator and Historian Clum with his first wife, Mary, in Tombstone, AZ. In 1898, the cry of “Gold” rang out with the discovery of the precious metal in Alaska. Before long thousands of stampeders, mostly Americans, were making the treacherously long journey into the Klondike gold fields. Their families yearned for news of the adventurers, who also longed to keep in touch with home. But the Post Office Department had little presence in the territory at the time and so dispatched a postal inspector to create a functioning mail system. This inspector was one of the most... Continue reading
Posted Mar 5, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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Top: 3¢ Centennial of Baseball stamp, 1939. Right: 6¢ Grandma Moses American Folklore Series stamp, 1969. The first professional baseball club in America – the Cincinnati Red Stockings – was established in 1869. Two years later, in 1871, the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players was officially formed, thereby becoming baseball’s first “major league.” In commemoration of these two significant sesquicentennials of baseball history, the National Postal Museum is excitedly preparing for a new exhibition which will be open from 2020 through 2022. For many Americans, it isn’t truly summer until they hear the first crack of the bat... Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By Calvin Mitchell, Research Associate Marian Anderson—one of the greatest concert and classical singers of the twentieth century—was honored on a stamp issued by the United States Postal Service on January 27, 2005. She was the first female singer and the eighth woman to be honored in the Black Heritage Stamp Series issued annually by the U.S. Postal Service since 1978. During the first day ceremony for the stamp, Deputy Postmaster General John M. Nolan proclaimed the stamp “a powerful reminder of her unprecedented contribution to music and to her great sacrifice for justice.” The ceremony was held in Washington,... Continue reading
Posted Feb 1, 2019 at National Postal Museum
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By Nancy Pope, Curator & Historian 2018 marks the centennial of airmail service in America. Initially, the planes flew just one route to and from New York to Washington, D.C. (with a stop in Philly to refuel). But Post Office Department officials were determined to add another route from New York to Chicago, Illinois despite tremendous danger and a lack of supporting infrastructure. In a three-part series, Nancy Pope shares the captivating history of these pioneering flights. Catch up on Part I - A Difficult December: Setting Up a Route - and Part II - A Difficult December: Planes and... Continue reading
Posted Dec 18, 2018 at National Postal Museum
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By Nancy Pope, Curator & Historian 2018 marks the centennial of airmail service in America. Initially, the planes flew just one route to and from New York to Washington, D.C. (with a stop in Philly to refuel). But Post Office Department officials were determined to add another route from New York to Chicago, Illinois despite tremendous danger and a lack of supporting infrastructure. In a three-part series, Nancy Pope shares the captivating history of these pioneering flights. Catch up on Part I - A Difficult December: Setting Up a Route - and stay tuned for Part III! To make an... Continue reading
Posted Dec 15, 2018 at National Postal Museum
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By Nancy Pope, Curator & Historian 2018 marks the centennial of airmail service in America. Initially, the planes flew just one route to and from New York to Washington, D.C. (with a stop in Philly to refuel). But Post Office Department officials were determined to add another route from New York to Chicago, Illinois despite tremendous danger and a lack of supporting infrastructure. In a three-part series, Nancy Pope shares the captivating history of these pioneering flights. The airmail service that began on May 15, 1918 and was transferred over to the Post Office Department’s control on August 12, 1918... Continue reading
Posted Dec 11, 2018 at National Postal Museum
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By Emma Auburn, Advancement Associate #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season by bringing people together around the values of giving back. This day connects diverse groups of individuals around the world to celebrate and encourage giving. Your annual gifts allows the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum to broaden access to everyone. Your generosity allows us to present our collections in new ways while preserving them for the future. Donors like you give us the opportunity to dive deeper into our research and scholarship to share. By having you as part of our community, we are strengthened as a museum. To join... Continue reading
Posted Nov 27, 2018 at National Postal Museum
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By Nancy Pope, Curator & Historian On November 28, 1918, a group of aviation fans and the Superintendent of the US Airmail Service held the first Thanksgiving dinner on board an airplane. At 1 p.m., the group took off in a three-ton Handley Page bomber that had been transferred to the Post Office Department. The plane, which was intended for use carrying mail on the upcoming New York and Chicago route, instead carried a group of men and a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The day’s Thanksgiving feast was set out on a table prior to being loaded into the Handley Page... Continue reading
Posted Nov 22, 2018 at National Postal Museum
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By Scott W. Devine, Paper Conservator In preparation for the exhibition John Lennon: The Green Album – which runs through February 3, 2019 at the National Postal Museum – John Lennon’s childhood stamp album recently received a thorough condition assessment. Following its acquisition in 2005, the album underwent extensive conservation treatment in order to stabilize the cover and binding. Since then, the album has been maintained through a systematic, broad-based program of collections care. In addition to being housed in a custom made enclosure in a climate controlled storage area, each time the Lennon album is handled for loan or... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2018 at National Postal Museum
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By Emma Auburn, Advancement Associate The Smithsonian National Postal Museum celebrated its 25th Anniversary back in July, but we are celebrating all-year-round our silver anniversary! With more than 6 million objects in our collection, the Museum is able to tell unique stories from America’s history. We asked members of our community, including staff, visitors, council members, volunteers and donors, to share what their favorite object from our collection and their responses varied from as small as a postage stamp to as large as a bus! Each person chose an object that captures America’s compelling stories and collectively reflect the diversity... Continue reading
Posted Nov 5, 2018 at National Postal Museum