African Americans in the Postal Service and Philately

Topical Reference Page
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37c Alvin Ailey and Dancers stamp, 2004

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

Object Spotlight

On April 7, 1940, the Post Office Department (POD) issued a stamp honoring African-American educator Booker T. Washington (1856-1915) as part of its Famous Americans Series. The nation's first stamp to honor an African-American, it holds a unique place in American history.

February 15, 2015 - February 15, 2016
Exhibition

A chronicle of the African American experience told from the perspective of stamps and mail. Includes letters carried by enslaved Americans, mail to and from famous leaders of the civil rights movement, and a significant selection of original artwork for the USPS Black Heritage stamp series from the Postmaster General’s Collection.

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Exhibition

On September 18, 1970, legendary musician Jimi Hendrix died. In celebration of Hendrix's life and music, the National Postal Museum has created this mini-exhibit highlighting different postage stamps with connections to Jimi Hendrix and the era in American history that he helped shape.

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Wooden countertop distribution case
Exhibition
On April 1, 1891 John T. Jackson became the postmaster of Alanthus, Virginia. When he began his career, the twenty-nine year old was greeted with threats from those unwilling to accept an African-American in that position. He remained in his job for 49 years, retiring in 1940.
Langston Hughes stamp
Langston Hughes
February 1, 2002 - August 2, 2002
Exhibition

This exhibition of stamps, books, photos, and illustrations honored the life of Harlem Renaissance poet and writer Langston Hughes (1901-1967), known for his lyrical, jazz-tinged interpretations of African American life. The exhibition opened on the 100th anniversary of Hughes' birth and coincides with the United States Postal Service's release of a stamp honoring the writer. This exhibition was part of the "Stamps with Personality" series, which highlighted the achievements of historical figures honored with their likenesses on postage stamps issued by the United States Postal Service.

Research Article
This article explores the place of letter writing in American history, revealing through the words of its citizens the nature of American life and documenting the country’s search for a uniquely American identity.

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