The Mail Must Move!


Bring your 6th through 8th grade students to the Smithsonian’s National Postal Puseum to learn about the impact and role the Postal Service had in 19th and early 20th century Westward Expansion.

Big Draw

Program Description

The Pony Express. Owney the dog and railway mail. Overland stagecoaches and highway robberies. It might be tempting think of these topics as myths and legends of the Postal Service but in fact, their truths help tell the very real histories of Westward Expansion in the United States, the Postal Service, and the impact they had on each other. This program leads students to explore Westward Expansion in the United States through a unique postal lens.

After an introduction to the causes and impacts of 19th century Westward Expansion in the United States, students will explore connections between this topic and the Postal Service through guided hands-on learning in the museum’s galleries. Finally, they will work in teams to compete in a game of strategy and chance as they race to deliver mail effectively and efficiently across the United States using the Railway Mail Service.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is this program right for my students?

  • Grade Level
    This program is designed for students in sixth through eighth grade. We can accommodate a maximum of two grade levels for a registered program, e.g. grades 7 and 8. We cannot accommodate a request for more than two grade levels, e.g. 6th-8th. If your group is mixed grade levels more than two grades apart, please reach out to to discuss a custom program.
  • Homeschool Groups
    We are pleased to be able to offer our student programs to homeschool groups as well as to traditional schools. Home-school groups must fit the same criteria as traditional school groups. Please consult the guidelines on this page to determine whether your homeschool group meets the requirements.
  • Number of students
    The minimum number of students we can accommodate for this program is 10. The maximum number of students we can accommodate for this program is 30. If you would like to bring more than the maximum number, please schedule multiple times and/or dates for your visit.
  • Dates and Times
    This in person program is offered Tuesdays through Fridays at 10:30am. Special requests for dates and times outside of our regularly scheduled programs are considered on a case-by-case basis. The National Postal Museum has the right to cancel or alter the program if your group is more than 20 minutes late. All programs will end at the designated time.
  • Program Duration
    This program is 90 minutes long.
  • Chaperones
    Adult chaperones are required for all student programs. Chaperones must remain with groups for the duration of the program. Failure to provide an adequate number of chaperones may result in the cancellation of a program. Due to space and safety concerns, excessive numbers of chaperones may not be able to participate in the program. The suggested ratio of adults to students is as follows:
    • Grades Pk-3: one adult per 5-8 students
    • Grades 4-6: one adult per 10-12 students
    • Grades 7-12: one adult per 15 students
  • Arrival at the Museum
    Entry into any Smithsonian Museum requires security screening. To ensure a prompt start, please aim to arrive 15 minutes in advance of the program start time. Please communicate to all chaperones and students that they will be subject to security screening prior to their visit.
  • Food and Drink
    The National Postal Museum does not sell any food or snacks. The Museum has limited eating space available for those that bring their lunches with them. Arrangements to eat on premises in a reserved space for your group must be made in advance of your visit. The Museum can hold backpacks and bag lunches for the duration of the program. The museum cannot guarantee space to eat for groups who do not arrange to eat on premises in advance. A small, designated eating area is available to the public during museum hours.
  • Inclement weather
    If your school is closed or on a two-hour delay, or if the federal government is closed or on a delayed opening, your program will be cancelled. The Museum will attempt to reschedule weather-related cancellations when possible.
  • Cancellations
    If you need to cancel or reschedule a student program, please email the Student and Teacher Programs Manager at at least one week prior to the scheduled program. Please be aware that we may not be able to accommodate rescheduling requests because student programs fill up quickly. No-shows and/or frequent last-minute cancellations may result in the inability to reserve a guided program for your student group for the remainder of the academic year.

Request a Reservation!

Guided student programs at the National Postal Museum will be on hold from June to August 2024. Reservations will reopen in August 2024, and programs for the 2024-2025 academic year will begin in September 2024. For inquiries, contact

You can request a reservation by submitting the registration form, linked below. Please be advised that submitting a registration form is only a request. Written confirmation (via email) from the museum constitutes a booking guarantee. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address provided on the form within one business week. Questions regarding your registration request should be directed to