Elliot Gruber Named Director of
Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum

Elliot Gruber, the chief development and external affairs officer for the Jewish Social Service Agency, has been named director of the National Postal Museum.

Gruber has more than 30 years experience in the nonprofit sector and will begin as director on September 5. He succeeds Allen Kane, who retired in January, as director of the museum. Marshall Emery has served as acting director of the museum since then.

“Elliot brings great and relevant experience to the directorship of the National Postal Museum,” said Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton. “His skills as a museum leader and his fundraising acumen make him an excellent choice to lead this important museum into its next chapter.”

“I am proud to have been selected to lead the National Postal Museum, which tells the story of our American journey, past, present and future,” Gruber said. “I look forward to using my experience to work with the museum’s staff, advisory council and the Council of Philatelists to build new partnerships within the Smithsonian, across the country and around the world.”

As chief development and external affairs officer for the Jewish Social Service Agency since January, Gruber is responsible for the organization’s philanthropic revenue, marketing and communications. Under his leadership, the agency launched a $6 million capital campaign to renovate one of its buildings in the Washington, D.C., area. The Jewish Social Service Agency is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, client-focused health and social service agency helping individuals and families meet emotional social and physical challenges for more than 120 years.

Before joining the Jewish Social Service Agency, Gruber was a principal at EHG Consulting, which provides strategic planning and operations and fundraising expertise to nonprofit organizations. Gruber worked with the Houston Maritime Museum, which is preparing to launch a $50 million capital campaign for its new facility scheduled to open in 2020. He also conducted a comprehensive review and analysis of the organizational and fundraising structure for Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

Gruber was the president and chief executive officer of The Mariners’ Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia, from February 2013 through April 2016. There, he managed a $7 million annual budget, 550 acres of parkland and a staff of 90. He also established the Monitor Foundation, a nonprofit organization overseeing the largest marine metals conservation lab in the world, to ensure continued conservation of the ironclad steamship the USS Monitor, which was built by the U.S. Navy during the Civil War.

From September 2010 until January 2013, Gruber was the senior vice president for resource development for the United Way of the National Capital Area. He was responsible for all fundraising programs, including the Greater Washington Give to the Max Day, which in its inaugural year raised more than $2 million in 24 hours.

Gruber was the vice president and chief operating officer of the Gettysburg Foundation (August 2002 to September 2010) where he directed the $125 million capital campaign to build a new museum and visitor center at Gettysburg National Military Park. He oversaw all museum operations, including ticketing, reservations, visitor services, and facilities management.

He has also worked in leadership capacities at the Ocean Conservancy, the Civil War Trust and the National Parks Conservation Association.

Gruber received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and his master’s degree in organizational psychology from Columbia University in New York City.

The National Postal Museum is dedicated to the preservation, study and presentation of postal history and philately. The museum uses exhibits, educational public programs and research to showcase the largest and most comprehensive collection of stamps and philatelic material in the world — including postal stationery, vehicles used to transport the mail, mailboxes, meters, cards and letters and postal materials that predate the use of stamps — and make this rich history available to scholars, philatelists, collectors and visitors from around the world.

The museum occupies more than 100,000 square feet of the historic City Post Office Building, with 35,000 square feet devoted to exhibition galleries.

APS Donates 500,000 Stamps
to Holocaust Art Project

One of the framed versions of artwork that was created.

The American Philatelic Society donated 500,000 used stamps earlier this month to help a school in its Holocaust remembrance project.

The Foxborough Regional Charter School of Massachusetts started the project in 2009 with the goal of creating artwork dedicated to the 11 million people who died during the Holocaust.

The 16 boxes of stamps donated by the APS.

Charlotte Sheer, a retired teacher from the charter school and founder of the stamps project, told a reporter at the Wicked Foxborough website that the stamp tally was at 9,422,168. APS Executive Director Scott English delivered 16 boxes of stamps to the school, raising the total to close to 10 million.

Wicked Foxborough reported that Sheer started the Holocaust Stamps Project in 2009 to educate children about the Holocaust. The goal is to collect 11 million stamps to represent the all the victims whose lives were lost.

Bins of stamps for future projects.

Collected stamps are being turned into pieces of art reflecting the history of the Holocaust.

“Countless lessons in history, tolerance, acceptance and the importance of respecting differences evolve from the project,” Sheer said.

“We took advantage of the proximity of the school to the Philatelic Show in Boxborough to deliver stamps on behalf of the APS membership who have donated so generously over the years for youth education,” English said.

To date, the project has received donations from 43 of the 50 U.S. states. States yet to send donations are: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

For more information, visit their website at  www.foxboroughrcs.org/students-families/frcs-holocaust-stamp-project.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother’s Day was one of the first holidays honored with a specific U.S. stamp, long predating stamps for the likes of Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Anna Jarvis, of West Virginia, started campaigning for a mothers holiday in 1905, the year her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, a peace activist who cared for Civil War soldiers from both sides, died. In 1908, Anna Jarvis held a church memorial for her mother and by 1911, thanks in part to Jarvis’ campaigning, all states observed Mother’s Day in some form or another.

A first-day cover for the Mothers of America stamp issued May 2, 1934 was sponsored by the American War Mothers, which lobbied for the stamp.

President Woodrow Wilson in 1914 signed a proclamation officially authorizing Mother’s Day as a holiday on the second Sunday in May. Jarvis had great disdain for the quick commercialization of the holiday. She also noted that the word “Mother’s” should be a singular possessive, meaning for each family to honor its own mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.

In 1933, Mrs. H.H. McCluer, of Kansas City, a past National President of the American War Mothers, lobbied first-term President Franklin D. Roosevelt for a special stamp for use in conjunction with Mother’s Day mail. Requests also had been made for a stamp noting the 100th birthday of artist James Abbott McNeill Whistler. FDR, a stamp collector, liked both ideas and sent a design idea to his new postmaster general, James A. Farley. FDR’s design that combined themes, which is very close to the final product, can be seen on the National Postal Museum website.

The stamp (Scott 737) was issued nationwide May 2, 1934 for use on Mother’s Day mail and in tribute to the Mothers of America. It shows a reproduction of Whistler’s painting, Portrait of My Mother, also known as An Arrangement in Grey and Black, and popularly called Whistler’s Mother. Two perforated varieties of this stamp were produced, each on a different press. One is a perforation gauge 11 by 10½ rotary stamp, the other a perforation 11 flat plate stamp.

A cover with the Mothers of America stamp postmarked in Utica, New York, on Mother’s Day, 11 days after the stamp was issued.

Was this the first major U.S. holiday stamp? Some might argue that the Columbians of 1893 helped mark Columbus Day or that the Washington Bicentennial set of 1932 coincides with George Washington’s birthday, then still a holiday marked on February 22. This blog author doesn’t buy into either of those concepts as the stamps marked centennials for individuals, not holidays.

Arbor Day, first celebrated in 1872 Nebraska, received a U.S. stamp in 1932, and is celebrated internationally, but has in many places in the U.S. given way to Earth Day.

A U.S. Special Occasions booklet issued in 1987 includes sentimental greetings, such as Love You, Mother!

On April 20, 1987, the Postal Service issued a Special Occasions booklet of 22-cent stamps with six different sentiments, including Love You, Mother! and Love You, Dad! Despite the misplaced commas that make it look like mom and dad are saying “love you,” even the pickiest of copy editors are known to have sent cards to their mothers and fathers franked with the appropriate stamp with the obvious sentiment.

ATA 2017 Distinguished
Topical Philatelist Selected

[April 17, 2017 ATA Press Release]

For her wide-ranging contributions to philately, Vera Felts has been selected to receive the American Topical Association’s highest award at the National Topical Stamp Show awards banquet June 24 in Milwaukee.

As ATA executive director since 2009, Felts has brought innovation and a positive attitude to the office and many of the organization’s programs. She spearheaded the highly successful ambassador program which has resulted in hundreds of new members, and managed the transition to a new topical checklist database, which has made ATA’s signature checklists better than ever.

For the past 18 years she has served as registration chair and managed the show cachets for the St. Louis Stamp Expo.  She edited the APS gold award-winning newsletter of the Southern Illinois Stamp Club for 15 years, and co-founded its SIRPEX local show.

A life member of APS, she served eight years as coordinator of its newsletter exchange. At the Science Center in Carbondale, Illinois, in 1999 she founded a long-running youth stamp group.

Felts is revered throughout philately for her devotion to helping people advance and enjoy topical collecting.

The Distinguished Topical Philatelist (DTP) award has been presented each year since 1952, by the ATA, the largest affiliate of the American Philatelic Society.  Don Smith served as chair of the selection committee.  The scrolls signed by all of ATA’s 119 DTPs can be viewed at http://americantopicalassn.org/awardsdtp.

Nominations Open for Annual First-Day Cover Writing Award

Nominations are being accepting through May 1 for the Philip H. Ward Award for Excellence in First Day Cover Literature, presented annually by the American First Day Cover Society. All works published in 2016 are eligible.

All articles published in First Days, the society’s journal, are automatically considered. Additional literature can be submitted to the Ward Award Committee chair, Mark Goodson, 202 W. Temperance Street, Ellettsville, IN 47429, or by e-mail to bgdsn@comcast.net.

The awards are presented each year at Americover, the annual show and convention of the AFDCS. Americover 2017 will be held August 11 to 13 in Independence, Ohio.

The award is named in honor of Philip H. Ward (1890-1963), a distinguished Philadelphia stamp collector, dealer and journalist who was a pioneer in the field of first day covers. The award was instituted in 1964.

Dorothy Knapp: Philately and Family, a book by Douglas S. Weisz, a well-known first day cover dealer, received first place in last year’s contest.

More information is available through the society’s website, www.afdcs.org/newsblog.html.

Back issues of First Days are available for $4 each postpaid within the U.S. from Jeffrey Bennett, 1601 River Farm Drive, Alexandria, Va. 22308. A searchable electronic archive of every issue of First Days from its inception in 1955 through 2014 is available on DVD for $79 postpaid. Society members can download back issues since 2011 for free on the AFDCS website.