¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 By the 1930s, purchasing stamps was easy and Americans understood that stamps functioned in many ways outside of their official role as postage. Americans found philatelic information published in newspaper columns or learned about philately at the YMCA or at a local university. Stamp collecting continued to grow in popularity as a hobby because club philatelists, educators, parents, missionaries, and merchant capitalists contributed to a public dialogue in the mainstream media that framed stamp collecting as educational. By constructing stamps as educational, these groups taught others how to look for what they wanted them to see in stamps and the order placed on them through philatelic practices. Teachers wanted students to memorize geographic locations and world leaders; recreation leaders wanted students to stay out of trouble; cities wanted to keep the minds of unemployed adults active and ready for their next job; missionaries showed young people a path for doing God’s work; and merchant capitalists demonstrated that stamps were consumer collectibles. Club philatelists participated in this mass pedagogical movement to bring stamp collecting to all Americans through a type of voluntarism that spread the word about their favorite hobby.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Overall, collectors and non-collectors saw the world as an ordered place that could be controlled in the pages of a stamp album, and these processes emulated, in a small way, an imperialist impulse to gather and control territories for one’s own gain. This process also opened the door to viewing the U.S. as different and exceptional when compared to other countries.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Americans learned to read stamps as culturally encoded texts bearing images and phrases constructed by a government agency, whether aware or not. The USPOD understood this power as it tracked the growing interest in stamp collecting, and began printing commemorative stamps in the 1890s.