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Topical Reference Pages

Browse these pages to discover resources organized by topic.

Negro Leagues Baseball stamp artwork

African Americans in the Postal Service and Philately

The National Postal Museum celebrates African American history by providing online resources about the role of African Americans in the postal service and philately.

Small plane taking off in a field

Airmail Service

Not only did America’s Post Office Department fund the nation’s commercial aviation industry, but from 1918-1927, the Department operated the nation’s airmail service. Postal officials hired pilots and mechanics, purchased airplanes and equipment, established aviation routes and led the nation into the commercial aviation age.

Drawing of two Native American Indians dancing

American Indians In the Postal Service and Philately

The National Postal Museum celebrates American Indian history by providing online resources about the role of American Indians in the postal service and philately.

Duke Kahanamoku postage stamp

Asian and Pacific Americans In the Postal Service and Philately

The Museum celebrates Asian and Pacific American history by providing online resources about the role of Asian and Pacific Americans in the postal service and philately.

Civil War mail tent

Civil War

2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The National Postal Museum is proud to offer Civil War-related material and stories as seen through the lens of postal history and philately. We hope you enjoy the collection of resources that we have assembled.

Columbian Exposition postage stamp

Columbian Exposition and the Nation's First Commemorative Stamps

The Museum celebrates the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and the story of Christopher Columbus’s journeys to the New World as told through the nation’s first commemorative stamps, the 1893 Columbians.

photo of a duck's head

Duck Stamps

Officially known as “Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps,” Federal Duck Stamps are the longest running series of U. S. stamps. They are also among the largest and most beautiful of stamps, depicting all species of North American ducks, swans and geese.

Hispanic Americans stamp

Hispanic Americans in the Postal Service and Philately

Hispanic and Latino people demonstrate excellence in many areas including politics, public service, music, film, sports, business, science, and the military. The Museum is proud to recognize the significant contributions of these people and related events though various online exhibits.

Christmas 1962 stamp


Find resources on holidays on the National Postal Museum's websites.

Inverted Jenny plane stamp

Inverted Jenny

The "Inverted Jenny" is a misprinted U.S. postage stamp showing an inverted image of a blue airplane. The error occurred on the 24-cent airmail stamp of 1918. Only one sheet of one hundred inverted center stamps was sold, and no other examples have been discovered.

Elvis stamp


Find resources related to music on the National Postal Museum's websites.

Photo of Owney the Dog's head

Owney the Dog

One of the most popular exhibits in the National Postal Museum is the story of Owney, the puppy who became the unofficial mascot of the Railway Mail Service in the late 19th century.

Tales of the Pony Express comic book cover

Pony Express

While the Pony Express itself ended 18 months after it’s energetic start, its story lived on through wild west shows, dime novels, and movies.

Ben Franklin painting

Postmasters General

A complete list of the Postmasters General of the United States of America.

Railway Mail workers sorting mail in a railcar

Railway Mail Service

For more than a century, the core of America’s postal system was the Railway Mail Service. From its beginnings in the midst of the Civil War to its slow decline after World War II and the service’s last run in 1977, the history of America’s Railway Mail Service is one that was central to America’s postal history.

Breast Cancer stamp

Semi-Postal Postage Stamps

The United States Postal Service has issued semi-postal postage stamps which bear a higher-than-normal postage rate. The excess revenue is given to charity or some other cause.

Roberto Clemente stamp

Sports and Recreation

The National Postal Museum proudly celebrates the rich legacy of American sports including its athletes, events and accomplishments through a variety of online resources. Explore the links below to discover how stamps and postal history objects showcase this important thread of the American cultural quilt.

Inverted Jenny stamp

Stamp Collecting

Find stamp collecting resources on the museum's websites.

Ben Franklin stamp

U.S. Postage Stamps Complete Collection

One of the world's most popular hobbies, philately is the study and collection of stamps. Many hobbyists collect regular postage stamps, others collect special-use issues—some of which are unrelated to postal service. National postal administrations or smaller political entities and their lawful competitors issue stamps. So too do local posts, express companies, and even forgers.

Stained glass wiindow stamp

Vatican City Collection

In the heart of the Italian peninsula, nestled within the city of Rome, lies the world's smallest nation, Vatican City. It issued its first stamps on August 1, 1929. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the birth of the Vatican City nation and its post office, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum has digitized its complete collection of Vatican stamps.

Photo of Amelia Earhart

Women in the Postal Service and Philately

From the depictions of prominent and remarkable women on American postage stamps to the role of women within the US postal system, the museum’s website has something for everyone. A series of exhibits showcases the many and varied women celebrated on American stamps. Web visitors can learn more about the role of women in the history of America’s postal system, from famous aviatrix Amelia Earhart, to relatively unknown colonial postmaster Mary Katherine Goddard.

Postcard showing two soldiers practicing machine guns

World War I

With millions of people deployed to the front, the number of letters, postcards, packages, and news exchanged rose substantially during World War I, 1914-1918. Social welfare organizations created opportunities, campaigns, and materials to encourage letter writing to sustain morale at home and at the front. Governments developed methods to control communication through censorship regulations and adapted logistical networks to move great quantities of mail.