Collecting History: 125 Years of the National Philatelic Collection

 

WORLD WAR II INTERNMENT CAMP STAMPS AND MAIL

In February 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which made it legal for the military to incarcerate people of Japanese ancestry in the United States indefinitely and without trial. Nearly 120,000 people were forcibly detained. The remoteness of the relocation camps meant that postal services were the only connection to the outside world.

Japanese Americans line up at the camp post office in Manzanar, California.

The remoteness of the relocation camps meant that postal services were the only connection to the outside world. Above, Japanese Americans line up at the camp post office in Manzanar, California. War Relocation Authority photograph.
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This letter was mailed by one of the 8,500 internees at Camp Rohwer, near McGehee, Arkansas, one of the smallest of the relocation centers.
This letter was mailed by one of the 8,500 internees at Camp Rohwer, near McGehee, Arkansas, one of the smallest of the relocation centers. Five-year-old George Takei, who later became Star Trek’s Mr. Sulu, was interned here.
Letter mailed from Camp Amache
Camp Amache was Colorado’s only Japanese American detention center. The size of this envelope, the 1½ cents postage, and the date of the cancel suggest that it contained a Christmas card.
Joseph Leavy’s stamp exhibits, which opened in these mahogany pullot frames in December 1914, marked the first time that the Smithsonian displayed stamps as philatelic specimens rather than historical artifacts.
An internee mailed this picture postcard from Heart Mountain detention center in Wyoming, 60 miles east of Yellowstone National Park. The two other letters in this frame are both addressed to Heart Mountain. Former Congressman Norman Y. Mineta was interned here as a boy.
  Camp Rohwer envelope   Camp Amache envelope   Heart Mountain postcard  
             
  During World War II, Polish inmates at four German-run prisoner of war camps produced primitive stamps from printing plates engraved in leather, wood or linoleum. All four of the stamp-issuing POW camps were oflags, which housed officers and generals. Because of their rank, oflag prisoners were allowed much more freedom than the enlisted men confined in stalags.  
Polish prisoner of war and concentration camp refugee stamps, 1943-1944
Polish prisoner of war and concentration camp refugee stamps, 1943-1944
Polish prisoner of war and concentration camp refugee stamps, 1943-1944
Polish prisoner of war and concentration camp refugee stamps, 1943-1944
Polish prisoner of war and concentration camp refugee stamps, 1943-1944
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