¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Since Postmaster General Wanamaker’s successful attempt to sell commemorative stamps to citizens in 1892, the USPOD appealed to collectors with varying waves of enthusiasm through the US involvement in World War II. US entry into World War II changed commemorative production. The USPOD reduced the number of stamps produced and focused subjects directly on supporting the military, celebrating American technological achievements, alongside nationalistic themes.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 FDR and his administration used all of the resources available to them during his terms to promote federal programs and the hobby of stamp collecting. If non-collecting citizens did not know before FDR took office, they understood during his administration that the USPOD held power to endorse and promote specific interpretations of American history and played a role in the reification of national heroes.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 As a philatelist, President Roosevelt deliberately employed commemorative stamps as tools for garnering popular support for New Deal programs and federal initiatives. For those campaigning for a cause, earning a stamp was considered a victory for all those involved. Commemoratives from the 1930s also represented efforts to unite Americans across regional, gender, and racial divides. Supporters of the Anthony, Washington, and Emancipation stamps, particularly, enjoyed great victories when those stamps were printed and were available for wide distribution. Earning that place on an American commemorative ensured that the legacy of those individuals and events chosen would live on as miniature memorials when saved in collectors’ albums and when displayed at small philatelic exhibitions and in large national collections.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0 After World War II, postal officials began to rethink the selection process for new commemoratives. By 1957, the USPOD established the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) to assume the task of selecting American commemorative stamps.1 Citizens had influenced commemorative choices since the 1920s, but the CSAC formalized this relationship. In the process, postal officials created some space between themselves and cultural debates that arose from stamp requests from fellow citizens, collectors, and elected officials. By appointing a body of stamp enthusiasts who weighed proposals and made recommendations to the Postmaster General, some pressure was lifted from executive-level political appointees who would no longer evaluate every commemorative stamp suggestions.
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 Giving Americans official procedures for suggesting stamp subjects, meant that identifying subjects for commemoratives became easier for everyone because the USPS articulated criteria. For example, CSAC criteria mandated that historic anniversaries may only be considered in multiples of fifty years. By limiting anniversaries, the CSAC reduced the number of eligible requests. The Susan B. Anthony stamp that honored the sixteenth anniversary of the 19th Amendment ratification, would never have been printed under these rules. Additionally, the Committee also only considers subjects with “national significance,” specifically prohibiting local and regional anniversary commemoratives. Instead, local postmasters may request a special inked stamp to hand cancel mail dropped at their post office with a seal acknowledging that significant anniversary of a local event.2 Amidst the Cold War, local history remained local, and the Committee decided what qualified as nationally-important and worthy of representing the US on commemoratives.