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Upcoming Exhibits

The National Postal Museum is divided into galleries that explore America's postal history from colonial times to the present. Visitors learn how mail has been transported, emphasize the importance of letters, and spotlight the creation and wondrous diversity of postage stamps.


1635 proclamation
1635 proclamation for the fetling of the letter. (Courtesy Alan Holyoake)

From Royal Mail to Public Post

October 21, 2016 – January 16, 2017
The United Kingdom’s postal service, Royal Mail, observes its 500th anniversary in 2016. To mark the occasion, the National Postal Museum will present a temporary display of original documents from 1635 and 1840, pivotal years in the expansion and evolution of the country’s postal network. These important documents chronicling postal reform in the United Kingdom are on loan from a private collection. In 1516, King Henry VIII knighted a government clerk named Brian Tuke and gave him the title Governor of the King’s Posts. Sir Brian developed a system of post roads connecting London with the four corners of England. This was a closed system, available only to the king and high-ranking public officials. Its postmen were royal messengers who carried official writs, summonses and orders for the government. Over the next three centuries, however, a series of reforms gradually opened the Royal Mail to public use.

World War I picture postcard showing one soldier reading a letter, and two others about to drop mail into a mailbox.
World War I picture postcard.

My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I

April 6, 2017 – November 29, 2018
Through personal correspondence written on the frontlines and home front, this centennial exhibition uncovers the history of America’s involvement in World War I. The compelling selection of letters illuminates emotions and thoughts engendered by the war that brought America onto the world stage; raised complex questions about gender, race and ethnic relations; and ushered in the modern era. Included are previously unpublished letters by General John Pershing, the general who led the American Expeditionary Forces and a person who understood the power of the medium. In his postwar letter that begins “My fellow soldiers,” he recognized each individual under his command for bravery and service. Developed in partnership with the Center for American War Letters at Chapman University, My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I will be on exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum.