The national collection illustrates and invites research into United States philately and postal operations. It contains prestigious postal issues and specialized collections, archival postal documents and three-dimensional objects that trace the evolution of the postal services.
The National Postal Museum is divided into galleries that explore America's postal history from colonial times to the present. Visitors learn how mail has been transported and the wondrous diversity of postage stamps.
The Museum supports a wide variety of interdisciplinary research projects which address topics of importance such as current and future postal operations, as well as philatelic and postal history. Our efforts are a resource and point of reference for research and wider investigation by historians throughout the United States and the world.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.