Every Stamp Tells a Story

Mail Marks History

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The Mail Marks History exhibition in the William H. Gross Stamp Gallery

The markings on mail provide valuable clues to the surprising ways mail has been transported over time, including challenges and even disasters encountered along the way. Visitors learn to decipher these markings through an interactive experience in which they trace the journeys of three historic letters by analyzing different kinds of mail markings.

At wall displays supplemented by exhibit frames, visitors investigate markings on mail transported on land and across seas, by air and in space. Among the many historic artifacts on view are a 1390 Silk Road letter, a letter mailed aboard Titanic during its first and only voyage, Amelia Earhart’s brown leather flight suit, a mailbox remnant from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and a mailbox from 9-11.

Amelia Earhart flight suit

The Museum's collection includes a flight suit owned and worn by Amelia Earhart. This tour explores the suit's physical features and their ties to her philatelic and flying passions.

Mail Marks History exhibit.
Mail Marks History exhibit

Mail Marks History exhibit.
Titanic cover, 1912, on view in the Mail Marks History exhibit
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This video is about the impact of the mail in times of trouble such as World War II, the San Francisco earthquake, 9/11 attacks, and Hurricane Katrina. It underscores how vital postal operations become when people’s ability to communicate is disrupted.

[Music throughout video]