Freedom Just Around the Corner: Black America From Civil War to Civil Rights at the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum will close February 15, 2016, after a year open to the public.
Freedom is the Postal Museum’s first exhibition focusing solely on African American history. When it opened on February 12, 2015, it marked 150 years since the end of the Civil War and the abolition of slavery in America. The display features over one hundred items from the Postal Museum’s collection and loans from other museums and private collections. The exhibit shows letters carried by enslaved Americans, mail sent to and by leaders of the civil rights movement, and the original artwork for many stamps issued by the United States Postal Service.
Slaves often carried letters to and from the post office before the idea of home mail delivery came into fruition. Slave-carried mail is usually identified by an endorsement that also served as a travel pass. These mail messengers could be an important source of news if they overheard discussions during their travels. Slaves sometimes carried letters directly to the recipient, excluding the postal system entirely. This was often the case when the letter was accompanied by a parcel because post offices did not handle domestic package mail until 1913.
To learn more about the exhibit, click here.