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World War I

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American postcard showing machine gun practice.

Find resources on World War I on the National Postal Museum's websites.

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Army nurse, Camp Sherman, Ohio, 1918
Grace (Mechlin) Sparling Collection, Gift of Lillian S. Gillhouse, Women’s Memorial Foundation Collection

In Her Words: Exhibition

“I am in the Army now.”
-Nurse Greta Wolf to her parents, July 10, 1918

World War I was a watershed for global political, economic, and social change, and for women’s rights and labor in the United States. During the war, women officially served in and alongside the military in unprecedented numbers and in ways that shaped the professionalization of women’s work. Through the letters and artifacts of four women, visitors can explore unique, personal perspectives on life, duty, and service during the war.

On exhibit at the National Postal Museum from February 2, 2018 — May 8, 2018.

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American Red Cross photo postcard showing soldier sending mail.

My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I Exhibition

At the end of the war, General John J. Pershing—commander of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF)—wrote a letter that begins “My Fellow Soldiers.” Pershing expressed his profound respect and appreciation for the sacrifice, endurance, and will of those who served under him. Each member of the AEF received a copy of the message.

Letters were the primary form of communication between the home and military fronts and allowed both writers and recipients to preserve connections and share experiences. The selection of correspondence presented in this exhibition illuminates the relationships, thoughts, and emotions of the authors as they grappled with the effects of World War I.

On exhibit at the National Postal Museum from April 6, 2017 - November 29, 2018.

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A reading and writing room, 1918. Courtesy National Archives

My Fellow Soldiers Exhibition Related Programs 

Public programs for 2017-2018 featuring a variety of World War I subjects and the My Fellow Soldiers exhibition.

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Front page headline, March 1, 1917

Pushing the Envelope - World War I Related Blogs 

Articles from the museum's blog on World War I topics.

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Letter mailed from Paris by an American private, 1918

Letter Writing in America - World War I Letters 

The Great War dominated American minds and hearts, especially after the United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917. As American soldiers began to pour across the Atlantic to help the Allied cause, letter writing provided a crucial connection between these men and their families back in the states.

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Special Passport for Postal Agent Charles P. Leary

Object Spotlight - Special Passport for a Postal Employee 

Like travelers today postal employee Charles P. Leary needed a passport to journey abroad during World War I. Unlike modern passports however it was granted for a specific purpose: to allow Leary to travel to France where the Post Office Department was establishing a service to support the deployment of US military personnel.

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MPES handstamp die (shown in reverse)

Mail Call - Expanded Service 1898-1920s 

During World War I, the postal system experienced unprecedented growth. Between July 1, 1917 and June 30, 1918 the Post Office Department dispatched 35 million letters to the American Expeditionary Forces.

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American serviceman composes a letter, c. 1918. Courtesy U.S. Army Military History Institute

War Letters: Lost & Found - World War I 

On the battlefront and at home, letters provide a vital connection between military service members and their families, friends, and loved ones. Motivated by the extraordinary circumstances of war, letter writers often reveal the priorities of life through vivid, heartfelt words and sentiments.

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Title page of Empire Abstracts, Number 48

World War I and Postal Traffic in British Colonies 

Paper written by Richard Maisel for the 2008 Winton M. Blount Symposium.

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War Savings Certificate stamps

Postal and Treasury Savings Stamp Systems: The War Years 

Paper written by Harry K. Charles for the 2008 Winton M. Blount Symposium.

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Egg crate, c. 1920

“Food Will Win the War”: Motor Trucks and the Farm-to-Table Postal Delivery Program, 1917-1918 

Paper written by Robert G. Cullen for the 2008 Winton M. Blount Symposium.