Mail Call

 

Mail Call

“Letters are not left behind on a nightstand . . . when soldiers go into battle. They are taken along and read over and over.”
– Sean J. Byrne, Brigadier General, U.S. Army, 2003

Throughout our nation’s history, military personnel have treasured the letters and care packages received from loved ones back home. Just how Even in today’s era of instant communication, troops overseas continue to treasure mail delivered from home. Unloading mail aboard the USS Nimitz, 2003. has this mail reached its destination through the years? What role has it played in the lives of the men and women who serve and their families? Mail Call, an exhibition organized with the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum, tells the fascinating story of military mail and communication—from the American Revolution to the current war in Afghanistan.

On the battlefront and at home, mail has long sustained the vital connections between military service members and their family and friends. With compelling documents, photographs, illustrations, and audio stations, Mail Call celebrates the importance of this correspondence.

From the earliest handwritten letters that took months to deliver, to today’s instant communication via email or the Internet, the exhibition presents the changing look and format of mail pieces through the decades. It also examines the complex operations systems set in place to ensure safe delivery. Most significantly, it explores the incalculable role mail plays in maintaining the morale of our troops.

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Exhibition Specifications

Contents 7 freestanding units with reproductions of photographs, illustrations, documents, text panels; vitrines containing objects and audio stations
Supplemental

Exhibition website, educational and promotional resources

Participation Fee

$3,500 per 10-week booking period, plus outgoing shipping

Square Feet 1,250-1,500 square feet, est.
Crates 13 wheeled crates; ~3,200 lbs. total
Category History & Culture
Security Limited
Shipping Outgoing
SITES Contacts

Ed Liskey, 202.633.3142 (Scheduling)
Sara Artes , 202.633.3113 (Content)

Tour Through October 2016
   
 
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Tour Itinerary

Dates Host Institution Status
11/10/12 01/20/13 Spartanburg County Public Library, Spartanburg, SC Booked
02/09/13 04/21/13 Sonoma County Museum, Santa Rosa, CA Booked
05/11/13 07/21/13 Park City Museum, Park City, UT Booked
08/10/13 10/20/13 Park City Museum, Park City, UT Booked
11/09/13 01/20/14 Cape Fear Museum, Wilmington, NC Booked
02/08/14 04/20/14 Grapevine Convention and Visitors Center, Grapevine, TX Booked
05/10/14 07/20/14 Tryon Palace, New Bern, NC Booked
08/09/14 10/19/14   Call for Availability
11/08/14 01/18/15 Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, Cincinnati, OH Booked
02/07/15 04/19/15 William F. Laman Public Library,
North Little Rock, AR
Booked
05/09/15 07/19/15 Grout Museum of History and Science, Waterloo, IA Booked
08/08/15 10/18/15 Grout Museum of History and Science, Waterloo, IA Booked
11/07/15 01/17/16   Call for Availability
02/06/16 04/17/16 University of North Georgia, Dahlonega, GA Booked
05/07/16 07/17/16   Call for Availability
08/06/16 10/16/16   Call for Availability
       

Related Publications

None listed at this time. Please check back again.

 

 

 

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Press Release

Media only: Lindsey Koren (202) 633-3122; korenl@si.edu
Media website: http://newsdesk.si.edu

Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Offers Fascinating Look at Military Mail and Communication

A name is shouted out, and a parcel is handed through the crowd to its eager recipient—mail call is a moment when the front line and home front connect. Letters, news and packages from home unite families, boost morale and in wartime, elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary. The traveling version of the National Postal Museum’s permanent exhibition, “Mail Call” explores the history of America’s military postal system, and examines how even in today’s era of instant communication, troops overseas continue to treasure mail delivered from home.

Organized and circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service, the exhibition tells the fascinating story of military mail and communication—from the American Revolution to current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The exhibition will debut Nov. 10 at the Spartanburg County Public Library in Spartanburg, S.C., and remain on view through Jan. 20, 2013, before continuing on a 15-city national tour.

Throughout American history, the military and postal service have combined forces to deliver mail under challenging—often extreme—circumstances. But whether it takes place at headquarters or in hostile territory, on a submarine or in the desert, mail call forges a vital link with home.

On the battlefront and at home, mail has long sustained the vital connections between military service members and their family and friends. With compelling documents, photographs, illustrations and audio stations, “Mail Call” celebrates the importance of this correspondence. Visitors can discover how military mail communication has changed throughout history, learn about the armed forces postal system and experience military mail through interesting objects and correspondence both written and recorded on audiotape. The exhibit offers an appreciation of the importance of military mail and the hard work that has gone into connecting service men and women to their government, community and loved ones at home.

“Mail Call” features a number of items that bring to life the story of military mail. One such highlight is a kit with supplies for “Victory Mail,” a microfilm process developed in World War II to dramatically shrink the volume and weight of personal letters. Beginning in 1942, V-Mail used standardized stationery and microfilm processing to produce lighter, smaller cargo—150,000 microfilmed letters could fit in one mailbag. Visitors will also gain access to dramatic firsthand records and heartfelt sentiments through excerpts from letters exchanged between writers on the front line and the home front. The exhibit also explores how the military postal system works today and describes the new ways the men and women of the armed forces are communicating with home.

From the earliest handwritten letters that took days or even months to deliver, to today’s instant communication via email or the Internet, “Mail Call” presents the changing look and format of mail pieces through the decades. It also examines the complex operations systems set in place to ensure safe delivery, and it explores the incalculable role mail plays in maintaining the morale of American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen.

“Mail has always played a very important role in the lives of the men and women of our armed forces and their families at home,” said exhibit curator Lynn Heidelbaugh of the National Postal Museum. “Writing and receiving correspondence has a significant power to shape morale. The relationship between mail and morale is expressed time and again in messages from deployed military personnel, and it is a compelling reason behind the extraordinary efforts to maintain timely mail service.”

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for 60 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at www.sites.si.edu.

The National Postal Museum is devoted to presenting the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of stamps and philatelic material in the world. For more information visit www.postalmuseum.si.edu.

 



EXPLORE and LEARN

» Exhibition Specifications

» Tour Itinerary

» Related Publications

» Press Release

» Mail Call at National Postal Musuem



If you like this exhibition, you might also like:

» Native Words, Native Warriors

»The White House Garden (Archived Exhibition)



More Exhibitions from SITES

 

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