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About the Exhibit

Open February 12, 2015 – February 15, 2016

Postmasters Suite
The Postmasters Suite presents rotating, high-caliber philatelic exhibits on topics of special interest.
The Postmasters Suite presents rotating, high-caliber
philatelic exhibits on topics of special interest.

The National Postal Museum’s first exhibition devoted entirely to African American history, Freedom marks 150 years since the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery throughout the United States. It highlights letters carried by enslaved Americans, mail sent by and to leaders of the civil rights movement, and original artwork for numerous stamps issued by the United States Postal Service. Nearly one hundred items from NPM’s collection are on display, augmented by outstanding pieces on loan from other institutions and private collections.


Guido Craveri
Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections (ESPER)
The Perry Hansen Family
Pitney Bowes


Freedom Just Around the Corner was staged through the combined efforts of a very talented exhibit team that included Eric Chapman, Exhibits; Marshall Emery, Public Relations; Motoko Hioki, Education; Manda Kowalczyk, Conservation; Patricia Raynor, Collections; Elizabeth Schorr, Collections; Roxanne Symko Smith, Project Manager; and Allie Swislocki, Advancement. Many NPM staff worked on various aspects of the project, including Polone Bazile, Finance; Amy Borntrager, Advancement; Linda Edquist, Conservation; Lynn Heidelbaugh, Curatorial; Rebecca Kennedy, Conservation; Sharon Klotz, Exhibits; Bill Lommel, Web Design; Hannah Molofsky, Special Events; James O’Donnell, Collections; Kim Skerritt, Education; and Kim Wayman, Contracting; Baasil Wilder, Librarian.

We are especially grateful to our donor-sponsors, including Guido Craveri; The Perry Hansen Family; Pitney Bowes; and the Ebony Society of Philatelic Events and Reflections. Publication of the exhibition catalogue was supported by the George W. Brett Philatelic Publications Endowment Fund.

This exhibition was greatly enriched by numerous pieces generously loaned from institutions and private collectors, including Avery Research Center, College of Charleston; Carl J. Cruz; Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University; John M. Hotchner; Howard County (MD) Historical Society; Hermann Ivester; Patrick Maselis; David Mielke; Calvin N. Mitchell; National Park Service, Mary McLeod Bethune Council House National Historic Site; Smithsonian Institution Libraries, Dibner Library of the History of Science and Technology; Smithsonian Institution Libraries, National Postal Museum Library; Southern Poverty Law Center; Stampvestors LLC through Columbian Stamp Company; Scott R. Trepel; Tuskegee University Archives; and United States Postal Service, Postmaster General's Collection.

Several individuals kindly consented to be interviewed for the audio component of the exhibit, adding a personal dimension to object interpretation. Interviewees were Dr. Fosetina Baker; Karen Bertha; Dr. Francoise B. Bonnell, Director, U.S. Army Women's Museum; Lt. Gen. Earl Brown (USAF Ret.); Gloria Brown; Dr. Rhea Combs, Curator of Photography and Film, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; Carl J. Cruz; Linda Edquist, Conservator, Smithsonian National Postal Museum; Lynn Heidelbaugh, Curator, Smithsonian National Postal Museum; Tina Jones; Col. James McQuillan (USAF Ret.); Michael Newton; and Scott R. Trepel.

Others who contributed to the exhibit’s success were Christine Lefebvre, Freedom’s designer; Smithsonian Institution Office of Exhibits Central, graphics printing; and Jayne Girod Holt and Catherine Valentour, contract conservators. Minuteman Press of Toledo, Ohio printed the exhibition catalogue.

Images, audio, and video came from many sources, including Carl J. Cruz; Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division; Library of Congress Recorded Sound Reference Center; National Archives and Records Administration; NBCUniversal; and Smithsonian Institution Libraries, National Postal Museum Library.

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Please note, due to Smithsonian Institution conservation and preservation protocols, the selection of objects and images on this website may differ from the items on exhibit in the museum’s Freedom Just Around the Corner: Black America from Civil War to Civil Rights gallery.