African Americans in the Postal Service and Philately

Topical Reference Page
refer to caption

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.

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.

Learn more

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.

Learn more

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 Articles
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.
October 20, 2010 - July 10, 2011
Exhibition

On view was original art produced by Kadir Nelson for the creation of the Negro Leagues Baseball stamps, which pay tribute to the all-black professional baseball leagues that operated from 1920 to approximately 1960.

Learn more

Object Spotlight

While the outside of the saddlebag is innocuous enough, flipping open the mailbags on each side reveal a disturbing reality.

Exhibition

African Americans on Postage Stamps
Since the founding of the United States, African Americans have played a pivotal role in the shaping of American history and heritage. Their contributions to America have included the fields highlighted by the 1940 Famous Americans and many more. This virtual exhibition showcases the black experience in the United States through the lens of American postage stamps.

Learn more

Pages

Related Blogs

Kadir Nelson: The Artist Behind the Stamp

Explore the work of Kadir Nelson, a prolific contemporary artist and illustrator who has created numerous postage stamps often highlighting the lives and accomplishments of African Americans. 

Stagecoach Mary Fields

Stagecoach Mary Fields was a force to be reckoned with. During her adventurous lifetime, Fields became the first African American woman to carry mail on a Star Route for the United States Post Office Department. Learn more about this legendary woman; beloved by her community, Fields was known for her assortment of guns, penchant for saloons, and love of cigars.

Marian Anderson: A Voice of a Lifetime

Marian Anderson—one of the greatest concert and classical singers of the twentieth century—was honored on a stamp issued by the United States Postal Service on January 27, 2005.

African American Troops in World War I: A Military Experience Based on Separate and Unequal Treatment

Despite concerns about racial discrimination in America, African Americans’ enthusiasm for supporting America’s entry in World War I was quite high in 1917. W.E.B Du Bois, one of the leading African American intellectuals of this period, rallied...

Pages