Literary Arts

Topical Reference Page
3-cent Joseph Pulitzer stamp

3-cent Joseph Pulitzer stamp

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

Epistolary novels use letters to tell a story. Hundreds of authors have found their way into telling a story by sharing their characters’ correspondence. Even as letters have made way to emails and text messages, the idea of using written messages to tell a story continues. Learn more about this unique story telling methodology.
In Appreciation of Letters: Their Historic and Personal Value
Interested in learning more about the human impact of historic events? Look no further than personal letters!
February 2, 2018 - September 5, 2018

World War I was a watershed for global political, economic, and social change, and for women’s rights and labor in the United States. During the war, women officially served in and alongside the military in unprecedented numbers and in ways that shaped the professionalization of women’s work. Through the letters and artifacts of four women, visitors can explore unique, personal perspectives on life, duty, and service during the war.

Image: Army nurse, Camp Sherman, Ohio, 1918
Grace (Mechlin) Sparling Collection, Gift of Lillian S. Gillhouse, Women’s Memorial Foundation Collection

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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.


Related Blogs

What Makes a Letter a Letter?

As National Letter Writing Month comes to a close, we'd like to share highlights from the Smithsonian Institution's most recent Material Culture Forum, which took place at the National Postal Museum and explored letters in many mediums.

Remembering Author Ray Bradbury (1920-2012)

On June 5, 2012, pulitzer prize winning science fiction and fantasy author Ray Bradbury passed away. In honor of this important figure in the history of American literature, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum has published a mini-online exhibit: Ray Bradbury: The Man, His Life & His Work

Writing Home: One Couple’s Letters from the Civil War

“My Love, Once more I am going to try to write to you under difficulties as usual.”

A TwainTennial

Does it seem as though you’ve heard a lot more about author Mark Twain lately? The author was born in Florida, Missouri as Samuel Clemens on November 30, 1835 making this year, the 175th anniversary of his birth.


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American Women Writers—and Readers

Enjoy this selection of Smithsonian Institution museum collection objects related to American women writers—and readers.