NPM Receives Donation from Family of Dr. George S. Brooks

The National Postal Museum announced yesterday that they have accepted a donation from the collection of the late Dr. George S. Brooks of Winchester, Kentucky. The donation consists of three volumes of postally used envelopes that Dr. Brooks assembled in honor of his son LTJG George S. Brooks, Jr. USN, who was lost at sea aboard the submarine USS Pompano off the coast of Japan during World War II.

Nimitz Cover
Envelope addressed by LTJG George S. Brooks, Jr. USN to his mother, postmarked the day before USS Pompano departed Midway Island on the patrol mission from which it never returned. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz later autographed the cover.

Pompano left Midway Island on patrol August 20, 1943 and never returned; its exact fate has never been conclusively determined. The elder Brooks channeled pride and grief for his son into collecting military mail that chronicled the hardships and sacrifices of wartime, especially the difficulties faced by military personnel and civilians in communicating from forward areas, secret locations and prisoner-of-war camps. Some of the last envelopes exchanged by Lieutenant Brooks and his parents – one marked simply “missing” – are an especially poignant part of the collection.

Mobile, Alabama Cover
The Confederate States established a post office department separate from the United States on 1 June 1861, but did not immediately issue new stamps. In the interim, the postmaster at Mobile, Alabama issued his own stamps that were in use for less than six months.

The donation was made by George S. Brooks II, accompanied by his wife, Kathy, and other members of his family. Mr. Brooks is the grandson of Dr. Brooks and the nephew of Lieutenant Brooks.

Confederate White Necktie Cover
In July 1862 the Confederate States issued a five-cent blue stamp printed from plates that were made in London and smuggled to Richmond, Virginia via a ship that ran the Union Navy blockade. Some printings of this stamp exhibit the striking “white tie” variety, caused by damage to the printing plate.

“Besides adding considerable depth to our military mail collections, the Brooks family’s gift will make it possible for the National Postal Museum to share their grandfather’s passion for collecting with others,” said Daniel Piazza, chief curator of philately.

Smithsonian National Postal Museum Holds Holiday Card Workshop

WASHINGTON, DC – The National Postal Museum was bustling with visitors Saturday as the museum held its annual holiday card workshop.

Visitors of all ages attended the event, at which they could design their own holiday greeting cards.

NPM Attendees

As visitors entered the museum atrium, they started by choosing two pieces of cardstock, one large and one small. They then moved to embellish their cards with stickers, twine, and other materials available at the various craft stations. Visitors could sit at the tables in the atrium to assemble their cards with glue, scissors and other materials.

The museum’s Post Office was open for visitors to mail their cards affixed with the museum’s special postmark.

The museum also provided a photo booth for visitors to share their photos on social media using the hashtag #nationalpostalmuseum.

Sponge Bob MailboxIn addition to the card making, visitors had the opportunity to write holiday messages to families at The Children’s Inn, an organization that provides housing and support for families with children receiving care at the National Institutes of Health. Visitors wrote messages on Spongebob-themed postcards and deposited them in a special Spongebob-themed mailbox. Director of Education Matthew White said he saw both parents children deposit postcards.

Referring to the Spongebob postcards, Public Programs Manager Motoko Hioki noted in an email, “The letter writing set up is still there in the museum atrium…if anyone wants to participate in the letter writing, they are welcome to do so at the museum until Thursday, December 14th.”

The Postal Museum holds several public events throughout the year, including another card workshop around Valentine’s Day. Volunteer Coordinator Maggie Sigle said the museum also does letter writing campaigns around Veterans Day for Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends care packages and letters to U.S. troops and first responders.

Hioki, who organizes the museum’s public events, detailed their Wine and Design program, available as a once-a-month happy hour event. At these programs, people can come to the museum after hours and complete various postal-related arts and crafts. The events typically occur once a month.

Hioki was instrumental in starting the Wine and Design program at the museum. “People don’t write letters anymore,” she said. “Encouraging people to write is something important to me.”

The Postal Museum continues to provide educational activities for the general public to learn more about stamps, postal history, and the stamp collecting hobby. It is open seven days a week, from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.

 by Tasos Kalfas, @TasosKalfasWRGW

All photos courtesy of the Smithsonian Institution National Postal Museum