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Photographic Archives

screenshot of the Photographic Archives with a photo of a letter carrier in snow

As the Smithsonian acquired its philatelic and postal operations collections, it also acquired original images and photo-reproductions illustrating

  • the history of the postal service in the United States—and other countries

  • the hobby of philately and philatelists

The range of subject matter includes

  • post offices

  • postal workers and officials

  • postal delivery systems (airmail, city, highway, railway, rural, ship, etc.)

  • postal vehicles (bicycles, carts, wagons, sleds, trucks, etc.)

  • postal equipment

  • postal documents

  • historic events (Civil War, postal strikes, Gold Rush, etc.)

  • U. S. and international stamps, covers

  • philatelic collectors and curators

The Museum and the Smithsonian Institution Libraries' onsite branch separately administer their portions of this collection of mostly photographic images. The material, which was assembled to support research, publications and exhibits, is available for public use.

Download Free Digital Files

The Museum requests a complimentary copy of publications in which museum images are published. The Museum requests that its digital media be used with full attribution to Smithsonian's National Postal Museum.

Ordering Photographic Media


Chase Plate Studies