When America’s sons and daughters are stationed overseas, especially during wartime, contact with loved ones back home becomes an essential part of life. During World War II, a new mail processing method was introduced to increase the amount of mail that could be exchanged overseas.
“Victory Mail,” a new temporary exhibition opening March 6 at the National Postal Museum, showcases the museum’s collection of World War II V-Mail correspondence. “V” for “Victory,” a popular WW II symbol, was the inspiration for the name of this new-fangled correspondence style.
The V-Mail system was developed to help reduce the shipping space needed for the massive increase in mail being sent between American armed forces overseas and their family and friends at home. “By reducing letters to microfilm size, thousands of pieces of mail could be shipped, taking up only a fraction of the space traditional letters used,” said exhibit curator Lynn Heidelbaugh. “More letters meant better morale, and less shipping space ensured other vital war materials reached the battlefront.”
Among the exhibit highlights are V-Mail letters—including illustrated greetings awash in local color and humor of military life in the Pacific and European theaters—items that reveal the writer’s recorded thoughts and sentiments to visitors; a rare strip of 16mm V-Mail microfilm; and advertisements and posters from the era that demonstrate the depth of community and business cooperation in helping the military promote V-Mail service to the American people.
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. It is located at 2 Massachusetts Ave. N.E., in the Old City Post Office Building across from Union Station. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information visit the museum’s Web site at postalmuseum.si.edu.
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