Exploring Stamps & Postal History With K-12 Students in North Carolina


By Alexander Haimann, Collections Specialist

Following in the same vain as my trips to Alabama and Wisconsin, this week I am in North Carolina presenting to K-12 students on different curriculum areas using stamps and postal history objects to illustrate various topics. On Tuesday, I spent the afternoon with 50+ students from the Sunrise Home School Group.

The afternoon was divided into two parts, with the first geared towards all ages and the second intended for the older students. During the first session, we covered the basics of early postal history in the United States. This included explanations of how mail was sent and received before postage stamps were introduced and what changes occurred to the postal system after stamps went into use. Throughout the presentation each student had the chance to hold a number of objects including:

  • A cover used with the first American postage stamp, an 1847 5c red brown stamp featuring Benjamin Franklin
  • A cover used with the world's first postage stamp, an 1840 British "Penny Black" stamp featuring Queen Victoria
Alex Haimann sorting through stamps with students

Following the formal presentation, I went through the audience and asked each student to tell me something about themselves, a favorite activity, book, movie, place they like to visit etc. and then I placed them at one of three tables. Each table had different piles of stamps spread out on them. The entire group spent twenty minutes going through the various piles and for the most part each student was able to find at least one stamp related to the piece of information they gave me to determine their table placement.

A group of students sorting through stamps

One young student, pictured below, was searching for stamps from Ireland and unfortunately that search proved to be much tougher than we initially thought!

Alex Haimann talking with a young student

The second session (preceded by a much needed milk and cookies break) was attended by the older students and focused on the events of World War II. Utilizing letters and covers from the era, we covered the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Japanese Internment Camps, the Holocaust, and civilian/military censorship of mail. The group of students from the second session are pictured below.

The students of the Sunrise Home School Group were an absolute delight--attentive, observant and just overall a lot of fun! I look forward to hopefully presenting to them again in the future. I would like to especially thank Marilyn Freebersyer for coordinating my visit with these students. Additionally, this blog post would not have been possible without budding professional photographer Madison Frink photos from the presentation--thank you!

Alex Haimann and a group of students posing for a photograph

Alex Haimann

About the Author
Alexander T. Haimann, Collections Specialist & Web Projects Developer at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum, collects and writes primarily about the stamps and postal history of the U.S. during the first one hundred years of stamp production (1847-1947). Additionally, he develops internet based education projects and exhibits for the National Postal Museum. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Stamp Dealers Association, the Chair of the American Philatelic Society’s Young Philatelic Leaders Fellowship and the publicist for the United State Philatelic Classics Society. His national and international society memberships include the American Philatelic Society, United States Stamp Society, Collectors Club of New York and the Royal Philatelic Society London.