World War I

Topical Reference Page
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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.

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Harry Sherlock and Heller Field

Harry Conley Sherlock was a former Royal Air Corps pilot who had been attached to a day bombing squadron during World War I. He joined the U.S. Airmail Service on February 12, 1920. Sherlock was single, and lived with his mother in East Orange, NJ. His first assignment was to College Park, MD, which served as the Washington, D.C. airmail field. After a crash there, he came face to face with the strict, unforgiving rules of Second Assistant Postmaster General Otto Praeger's management. Sherlock was penalized 10 flying hours for "poor judgment while making a landing on March 10 at College Park.” Sherlock had overshot his landing field and hit a mud hole, breaking the propeller, lower right wing and landing gear fitting. The reprimand continued by noting that “It is believed that this will be sufficient as he shows promise of being a very good pilot.” So, in spite of that rough start, Sherlock was assigned to the more important Bellefonte, PA - Newark, NJ leg of the service.

Object Group

World War I Stamps

The "Great War" forever changed the map of the world. Military occupations, postwar mandates, and plebiscites created numerous new governments. From the disintegration of the Russian, Ottoman, and Austro-Hungarian empires emerged newly-independent nations, while nationalist and irredentist movements took advantage of the chaos to claim sovereign territory.

Whatever their origins, and no matter how long- or short-lived these new governments were destined to be, they all announced their arrival by issuing postage stamps. Enjoy this selection of stamps related to World War I and its aftermath.

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World War I and Postal Traffic in British Colonies

Paper written by Richard Maisel for the 2008 Winton M. Blount Symposium.

Image: Title page of Empire Abstracts, Number 48

Postal and Treasury Savings Stamp Systems: The War Years

Paper written by Harry K. Charles for the 2008 Winton M. Blount Symposium.

Image: War Savings Certificate stamps

Food Will Win the War

“Food Will Win the War”: Motor Trucks and the Farm-to-Table Postal Delivery Program, 1917-1918
Paper written by Robert G. Cullen for the 2008 Winton M. Blount Symposium.

Image: Egg crate, c. 1920