When the Mail Goes to WarSmithsonian National Postal Museum
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U.S. soldiers in the recreation hall at Camp Dix in New Jersey are admonished by a large banner to 'write that letter home' during World War I.
U.S. soldiers in the recreation hall at Camp Dix in New Jersey are admonished by a large banner to "write that letter home" during World War I.
  Above: U.S. soldiers in the recreation hall at Camp Dix in New Jersey are admonished by a large banner to "write that letter home" during World War I.    
  A 1918 cover from General John J. Pershing, commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in France, to his young son, Warren. Letters to and from home are morale boosters for GIs and generals alike.
A 1918 cover from General John J. Pershing, commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in France, to his young son, Warren.
   
  Above: A 1918
cover from General John J. Pershing, commander of the
Allied Expeditionary Force in France, to his young son,
Warren. Letters to and from home are morale
boosters for GIs and generals alike.
   
  This U.S. Post Office Military Mail Service badge was assigned to Lt. Col. Norman D. King of the 312th Base Post Office. Located in Frankfort-am-Main, Germany, the 312th handled most mail to and from military personnel in Germany and France during the 1950s and 60s.
This U.S. Post Office Military Mail Service badge was assigned to Lt. Col. Norman D. King of the 312th Base Post Office.
   
  Above: This U.S. Post Office Military Mail Service badge was assigned
to Lt. Col. Norman D. King of the 312th Base Post Office. Located in
Frankfort-am-Main, Germany, the 312th handled most mail to and from military personnel in Germany and France during the 1950s and ‘60s.
   
 
  The USPS withdrew this stamp from a 1995 series marking the end of World War II after Japanese and American protests.
The USPS withdrew this stamp from a 1995 series marking the end of World War II after Japanese and American protests.
   
  Above: The USPS withdrew this stamp from a 1995 series marking the end of World War II after Japanese and American protests.    
   


The Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium
"When the Mail Goes to War"
September 26-27, 2008
Spc. Creashon Laskey hands Pvt. Michael Bailey a package at the Task Force Phantom mail room in Camp Victory, Iraq during August 2007.
Above: Mail Call: Spc. Creashon Laskey hands Pvt. Michael Bailey a package at the Task Force Phantom mail room in Camp Victory, Iraq during August 2007.

The 2008 Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium jointly sponsored by the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and the American Philatelic Society was held in the museum's Blount conference room on September 26 and 27, 2008. It was the third annual national conference for academic scholars, philatelists, and industry experts for discussion of research into the
history of postal organizations and systems.

The theme for the 2008 Symposium was war and the mail, broadly interpreted to include everything related to defense and the postal system in all countries and eras.

Postal topics are usually framed in peaceful terms: mail “binds the nation together” by enabling commerce and encouraging technological development, while stamps are “works of art in miniature” or “little paper ambassadors” of national culture and achievement. Often overlooked is the fact that when a nation goes to war, its stamps and postal system are always an integral part of the mobilization—and the relief effort.

The subjects there were explored include:

• Logistics of transporting mail to and within theaters of operation;
• The intricate web of policies, regulations, and treaties that govern the movement of overseas military mail;
• The move to privatize and outsource military mail delivery;
• War letters as primary historical documents;
• Mail from and to prisoners of war; concentration camp victims; internees;
• Overt and covert censorship of civilian and military mail in times of war and civil disturbance;
• Unusual methods of delivery employed in wartime, e.g. pigeon post; balloon mail; V-Mail and airgraphs;
• Stamps (including forgeries) and covers as instruments of propaganda;
• The "Farm-to-Table" Postal Delivery program;
• The role of the International Committee of the Red Cross.


 
 
1917 2¢ ‘Powdery’ Rose Washington booklet pane of 30 (Scott #499f) and  three values from the “Celebrate the Century” series released by the USPS between 1998 and 2000. From left, 2002 33¢ Gulf War (Scott #3191b); 1999 33¢ Vietnam War (Scott #3188g); and 1999 33¢ Korean War (Scott #3187e).
 
  Above foreground: 1917 2¢ ‘Powdery’ Rose Washington booklet pane of 30 (Scott #499f). The U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing created booklets of 300 stamps (each containing ten panes like this one) for use by the World War I American Expeditionary Force in France.
Above background: Three values from the “Celebrate the Century” series released by the USPS between 1998 and 2000. From left, 2002 33¢ Gulf War (Scott #3191b); 1999 33¢ Vietnam War (Scott #3188g); and 1999 33¢ Korean War (Scott #3187e).
 
 
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Sponsors

National Postal Museum logo

THE SMITHSONIAN NATIONAL POSTAL MUSEUM – The National Postal Museum is devoted to presenting the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic material in the world. The museum uses exhibits, public programs and research as well as its Web sites to make this rich history available to visitors, collectors and scholars from around the world. In addition, the Smithsonian Institution Libraries collection at the National Postal Museum Library includes more than 40,000 publications and documents. The National Postal Museum is located at 2 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., across from Union Station, and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

American Philatelic Society logo

AMERICAN PHILATELIC SOCIETY – With 44,000 members in more than 110 countries, the American Philatelic Society (APS) is the largest society in the world for stamp collectors. Whether you are a beginning collector or have years of philatelic experience, the APS and its American Philatelic Research Library offer a variety of services and educational opportunities to broaden your personal collection and enhance your special collecting interests!

 
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Organizing Committee

Virginia L. Horn, American Philatelic Research Library
David L. Straight, American Philatelic Society
Tom Lera, Smithsonian National Postal Museum

 
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