Topical Reference Pages

Browse these pages to discover resources organized by topic.


37 cent Alvin Ailey and Dancers stamp

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

Pilots Clarence Lange, Lawrence Garrison, and “Wild” Bill Hopson posing for a photo

Not only did America’s Post Office Department fund the nation’s commercial aviation industry, but from 1918-1927, the Department operated the nation’s airmail service. Postal officials hired pilots and mechanics, purchased airplanes and equipment, established aviation routes and led the nation into the commercial aviation age.

Art of the American Indian postage stamps

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

Duke Kahanamoku stamp

The Museum celebrates Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander history by providing online resources about the role of Asian and Pacific Americans in the postal service and philately.

A group of Civil War soldiers gathered in front of a mail tent

2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The National Postal Museum is proud to offer Civil War-related material and stories as seen through the lens of postal history and philately. We hope you enjoy the collection of resources that we have assembled.

Isabella Pledging Her Jewels, $1 stamp

The Museum celebrates the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition and the story of Christopher Columbus’s journeys to the New World as told through the nation’s first commemorative stamps, the 1893 Columbians.

Fulvous Whistling Duck painting by Burton Moore featured on the 1986 duck stamp

Officially known as “Migratory Bird Hunting and Conservation Stamps,” Federal Duck Stamps are the longest running series of U. S. stamps. They are also among the largest and most beautiful of stamps, depicting all species of North American ducks, swans and geese.

Earth Day stamp featuring two human hands holding the Earth in space

Every year Earth Day is celebrated globally on April 22 to raise awareness of the planet's health and to promote environmental education.

stamp featuring a Spanish map of Spain and the Americas

In celebration of Spanish Language Day, the museum created this compilation of Spanish language stories, collection objects and exhibitions that are available on the museum's website.

50 franc Jacques Cartier stamp, 1970

In celebration of French Language Day, the museum created this compilation of French language stories, collection objects and exhibitions that are available on the museum's website.

39 cent Exploration of East Coast by Samuel De Champlain souvenir sheet

In celebration of International Francophonie Day, the museum created this compilation from the museum's collections of objects and stories to celebrate the diversity and richness of the francophonie — the global community of peoples who share a common language: French.

The Post Office Department inaugurated Highway Post Office (HPO) Service on February 10, 1941. This service was to be a mail distribution network comprised of rapid pick-up, sorting, and dispatch to key points en route between two principal terminal cities.

Hispanic Americans stamp

Hispanic and Latino people demonstrate excellence in many areas including politics, public service, music, film, sports, business, science, and the military. The Museum is proud to recognize the significant contributions of these people and related events though various online exhibits.

4 cent Christmas 1962 stamp with two candles and a wreath with a red bow

Find resources about holidays on the National Postal Museum's website.

Inverted Jenny stamp with upside-down airplane

The "Inverted Jenny" is a misprinted U.S. postage stamp showing an inverted image of a blue airplane. The error occurred on the 24-cent airmail stamp of 1918. Only one sheet of one hundred inverted center stamps was sold, and no other examples have been discovered.

32 cent New Sweden stamp

A joint issue is when postal administrations of two or more countries work together to issue stamps or postal stationery on the same date to commemorate the same event or honor the same person, place or idea.

3-cent Joseph Pulitzer stamp

Find resources related to the literary arts on the National Postal Museum's website.

Hometowns Honor Their Returning Veterans stamp

Find resources related to the military on the National Postal Museum's website.

29 cent stamp showing Elvis singing into a microphone

Find resources related to music and the performing arts on the National Postal Museum's website.

One of the most popular exhibits in the National Postal Museum is the story of Owney, the puppy who became the unofficial mascot of the Railway Mail Service in the late 19th century.

While the Pony Express itself ended 18 months after its energetic start, its story lived on through wild west shows, dime novels, and movies.

Cantino's 1502 World Map stamp, 1 escudo

World Portuguese Language Day is celebrated every year on May 5 to celebrate the Portuguese language and Lusophone cultures. In celebration of Portuguese Language Day, the museum created this compilation of Portuguese language items that are available on the museum's website.

Find resources about the United States Postal Inspection Service on the museum's website.

For more than a century, the core of America’s postal system was the Railway Mail Service. From its beginnings in the midst of the Civil War to its slow decline after World War II and the service’s last run in 1977, the history of America’s Railway Mail Service is one that was central to America’s postal history.

Leavitt cancelling machine patent model

Find resources related to science and technology on the National Postal Museum's website.

fund the fight, find a cure, breast cancer stamp

The United States Postal Service has issued semi-postal postage stamps which bear a higher-than-normal postage rate. The excess revenue is given to charity or some other cause.

The National Postal Museum proudly celebrates the rich legacy of American sports including its athletes, events and accomplishments through a variety of online resources. Explore the links below to discover how stamps and postal history objects showcase this important thread of the American cultural quilt.

22c 1986 Presidents Minature Sheet single

Find stamp collecting resources on the museum's website.

a blank stamp frame

Find resources about stamp design and the visual arts on the museum's website.

Return delivery stamp displaying the World Trade Center ZIP code, 10048.

Find resources about September 11 and the anthrax attacks of 2001 on the National Postal Museum's website.

painting of Benjamin Franklin

A complete list of the Postmasters General of the United States of America.

200 lire St. Peter's Basilica stamp

In the heart of the Italian peninsula, nestled within the city of Rome, lies the world's smallest nation, Vatican City. It issued its first stamps on August 1, 1929. To celebrate the 80th anniversary of the birth of the Vatican City nation and its post office, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum has digitized its complete collection of Vatican stamps.

Catherine Manning, former Curator of National Philatelic Collection, looking at a stamp album

From the depictions of prominent and remarkable women on American postage stamps to the role of women within the US postal system, the museum’s website has something for everyone. A series of exhibits showcases the many and varied women celebrated on American stamps. Web visitors can learn more about the role of women in the history of America’s postal system, from famous aviatrix Amelia Earhart, to relatively unknown colonial postmaster Mary Katherine Goddard.

Postcard showing machine gun practice, postmarked: Lawton, OK. Ft. Sill Branch, Dec. 3, 1917, 6 pm.

With millions of people deployed to the front, the number of letters, postcards, packages, and news exchanged rose substantially during World War I, 1914-1918. Social welfare organizations created opportunities, campaigns, and materials to encourage letter writing to sustain morale at home and at the front. Governments developed methods to control communication through censorship regulations and adapted logistical networks to move great quantities of mail.

ZIP Code board game

Find resources about ZIP codes and Mr. Zip on the museum's website.