Upcoming Exhibition: “Mail Call” Opening Autumn 2011


By Lynn Heidelbaugh, Curator

Photo of soldiers receiving mail during a mail call.

A name is shouted out. A parcel passed through the crowd to its eager recipient. Soldiers, sailors, marines, or airmen and women awaiting their mail is a familiar scene from movies, newsreels, and documentary photographs. Mail call is a moment where the frontline and home front connect. “Mail Call” is also the title and topic of an exhibition opening at the National Postal Museum in autumn 2011.

The new exhibition will tell the history of military mail from the American Revolution to 2010. On the battlefront and at home, mail provides a vital communication link between military service personnel, their communities, and loved ones. How does this mail reach its destination? What roles does it play? Why does it have such a profound influence on morale? The exhibition explores the great lengths taken to set up and operate postal services under extraordinary circumstances. Visitors can read the words of both personal messages and official letters that reveal the expressions, emotions, and events of the time.

Remembrance from France postcard, front
Remembrance from France postcard, back

Even a small postcard can say volumes about its time and place. This postcard writer jotted down just a few short lines of reassurance only days after the Armistice of the First World War: “11-18-18 Dear Folks:- Not much news. Have not had a rain since war ended. Everything fine.”

And remember, it’s not too late to send those packages and cards to military members oversees in time for the holidays. Stop by the museum on Saturday, November 13th for a holiday card making workshop, Red, White and Blue Holiday Cards. Create beautiful cards for friends and family in the military or donate a handmade card to American military members through Operation Gratitude.


Lynn Heidelbaugh

About the Author
Lynn Heidelbaugh is a curator specializing in the history of the U.S. Postal Service, military mail, and the material culture of letter writing. Ms. Heidelbaugh has served as lead curator for several National Postal Museum exhibitions including, Mail Call (2011), Behind the Badge: The U.S. Postal Inspection Service (2014) and My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I (2017), for which she received a Smithsonian Secretary’s Research Award.