Over two million American military service men and women were stationed in Europe when the declaration of Armistice on November 11, 1918 effectively ended World War I. The deployed service personnel of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) transitioned from combat readiness, advanced to occupy Germany and began preparations to demobilize. Many, who had hoped to return home to the United States by Christmas 1918 could not, but with the help of the Red Cross, military and postal officials already had plans to deliver Christmas by mail.
Works from the National Gallery of Art
Since 1970, two general themes of Christmas stamps have been issued yearly by the U.S. Postal Service: one "traditional" and one "contemporary." The traditional stamps tend to be based on religious artwork, while the contemporary stamps usually have a secular subject. To showcase this tradition, the National Gallery of Art and the National Postal Museum have partnered to create this virtual exhibition, which explores the art behind US Christmas stamps.
On November 28, 1918, a group of aviation fans and the Superintendent of the US Airmail Service held the first Thanksgiving dinner on board an airplane. At 1 p.m., the group took off in a three-ton Handley Page bomber that had been transferred to the Post Office Department. The plane, which was intended for use carrying mail on the upcoming New York and Chicago route, instead carried a group of men and a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.
One of the most frequent questions I get asked as a curator is about care packages, namely, what did family and friends send to each other during one time period or another? The curiosity is understandable—who among us doesn’t want to peek inside the mail?
On Saturday, December 10th, the National Postal Museum hosted its Annual Holiday Card Workshop. The museum was packed with participants of all ages who spent the day creating unique holiday greetings for their friends and families. We'd like to share with you some of our favorite photos from the day!