Skip to Main Content
Bookmark and Share

Women in the Postal Service and Philately

Refer to caption
2006 Literary Arts Series Katherine Anne Porter stamp.
Considered a master prose stylist, writer Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980) won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1966 for the "Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter," which was published in 1965.

From the depictions of prominent and remarkable women on American postage stamps to the role of women within the US postal system, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum’s website has something for everyone. A series of featured collections 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.

Screenshot of Women on Stamps exhibit

Women on Stamps Part One: Women’s Stamp on History 

This featured collection is the first in a series focusing on the accomplishments of women featured on stamps. In Women on Stamps Part One, we acknowledge the efforts of pioneering women and early government leaders who entered previously unexplored territories - from the frontier to the Senate floor.

Screenshot of Women on Stamps exhibit

Women on Stamps Part Two: Pioneering Women 

Many of the women depicted on United States postage stamps have made significant contributions to their chosen professions. In Women on Stamps: Part 2, we feature women who pioneered in the fields of health, science, education, philanthropy, aviation and athletics.

37 cent Zora Neale Hurston stamp

Women on Stamps Part Three: Women in Literature and the Arts 

The first part of this online exhibit highlights the accomplishments of women, whether painters, sculptors, illustrators, or photographers, who have greatly contributed to the world of American art. The second part discusses women in literature. From journalists such as Ida Tarbell to novelists such as Edith Wharton, these women not only made great contributions to American literature, they also expanded opportunities for future women authors.

Screenshot of Women on Stamps exhibit

Women on Stamps Part Four: Women in the Performing Arts 

This online exhibit is comprised of two sections. The first section discusses prominent female singers. From gospel music to popular hits, these women have helped shape the musical traditions of America. The second section highlights women that have contributed to the fields of theatre and dance. Whether they are Broadway dancers or iconic movie actresses, these women have had a tremendous influence on the stage and screen.

photo of Amelia Earhart with goggles

Amelia Earhart’s Solo Transatlantic Mail 

On May 20-21, 1932, Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean, flying between Newfoundland and Ireland. The feat ensured her not only worldwide acclaim but a place in the annals of aviation history. May 2007 marked the 75th anniversary of this milestone flight, which set speed and women’s distance records. On the flight Earhart carried fifty pieces of “unofficial” mail (the flight was not authorized by the post office), each postmarked before and after landing, cacheted, numbered, and autographed to document the historic event.

Amelia Earhart's flight suit

Amelia Earhart’s Flight Suit

Pilot Amelia Earhart (1897-1937) earned revenue by carrying philatelic materials on her flights. Earhart owned and wore this leather wool-lined flight suit manufactured by Arnold, Constable & Company, of Paris and New York. Such suits were essential for long-distance flights.

black and white photo of African American women during WWII

The History and Experience of African Americans in America’s Postal Service: Female African American Postal workers during WWII 

The United States Army remained segregated during World War II. A group of African American women played a significant role in maintaining troop morale during the conflict. These women belonged to the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, part of the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC).

Woman delivering mail during World War I.

Women in the U.S. Postal System 

America’s postal system has evolved from one in which women were rarely seen or heard to one in which women are a critical part of the service. The U.S. has yet to see a female postmaster general; the 21st century finds women in many executive positions across the service.

The Maryland Journal- black and white copy of a newspaper

Mary Katherine Goddard 

Mary Katherine became Baltimore's postmaster in 1775. She held the post for 14 years. But in 1789, Postmaster General Samuel Osgood removed her from the position stating that it would require "more traveling . . . than a woman could undertake." On November 12, 1789, over 230 citizens of the city of Baltimore presented Postmaster General Osgood with a petition demanding her reinstatement.

Related Links