As we celebrate Independence Day on July 4th, you might not think to look at your stamp collection for a reflection on America’s history. Here are six times the Post Office has commemorated important moments in our nation- in stamp form!
1. 1776: The American Revolution
In 1976, the U.S. celebrated the 200th anniversary of The American Revolution, also known as The Bicentennial. The event was commemorated with a series of stamps, known as the Bicentennial series, that included an array of major events that happened during the Revolutionary War. The Surrender at Yorktown (pictured above), The Signing of the Declaration of Independence, Washington Crossing the Delaware, and Valley Forge were all depicted on sheets, each containing five 5-cent stamps.
Learn More: Black Courage: African-American Soldiers in the War for Independence
2. 1920: Passage of the Nineteenth Amendment
The Nineteenth Amendment, ratified on August 26th, 1920, granted women the right to vote. In 1970, 50 years after the amendment was ratified, the Postal Service released this commemorative stamp. The image depicts suffragettes alongside a "modern" woman of the 1970s, voting on the lever-operated machines that were used at the time.
This year will mark the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment, and the USPS will once again commemorate the occasion on a stamp, to be released this August.
Learn More: WE - Women Exhibitors
3 . 1922: Dedication of the Lincoln Memorial
The Postal Service released this stamp in 1923 to coincide with the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial. Construction of the memorial, and the statue inside, took nearly ten years to complete altogether. The memorial now stands as one of the most significant memorials in Washington, D.C., not only for its representation of Lincoln but also as the background for Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous "I Have A Dream" speech in 1963.
Learn More about Civil War Postal Covers: APS Stamp Chat: "Patriotic Covers & History, Part I"
4. 1932: The 10th Summer Olympic Games, Los Angeles, CA, and The Third Olympic Winter Games, Lake Placid, NY
In 1932, The United States held both the summer and winter Olympic Games. What would traditionally be a celebratory event was marred by the ongoing Great Depression, which began in 1929.
The Winter Olympics, held in February of 1932, in Lake Placid, New York, was the first to be held in the United States. The commemorative stamp, released shortly before the games’ opening ceremonies, depicts a ski jumper. Ironically, the person drawn is holding ski poles - which are not used by ski jumpers!
The Summer Olympics, held from July-August 1932 in Los Angeles, California, were the second games to be held in America and the 10th overall. The commemorative stamps, pictured above, released a few months before the opening ceremony, depict a runner and a discus thrower, respectively.
Learn More about Stamps and the Olympics: Exploring Stamps: Olympic Stamps
5. Late 1950s -1960s: The Civil Rights Movement
The Civil Rights Movement was a decades-long struggle by African-Americans to end racial segregation in America. Many people were instrumental in changes made during this period, and the USPS honored twelve of them on stamps in 2009 in conjunction with the NAACP. Each stamp honored two Civil Rights activists, the one pictured above showing Medgar Evers, a Field Secretary for the NAACP, and Fannie Lou Hamer, an activist who was instrumental in the fight for fairer voting rights.
Learn More: By Any Means Neccesary: The National Museum of African Americans on Stamps
6. 1969: The Moon Landing
On July 20th, 1969, Apollo 11 landed the first humans on the Moon- for the United States and the world. A few months later, the USPS commemorated the event with these stamps, which depict astronaut Neil Armstrong taking the first step onto the surface of the Moon. Last year marked the 50th anniversary of the occasion, and the USPS once again released a set of stamps to denote this “giant leap for mankind.”
Learn More: Pair Celebrates Moon Landing 50th Anniversary