playing with paper

Friday, January 20, 2012

Lancaster County Postage Stamp Presentation

This is the text of my presentation of the newly-released Lancaster County postage to the group gathered for a lecture titled From Frick's Lock To DuPont - How The Industrial Revolution Saved America. The response was positive, and I was grateful for the opportunity. I will recap the day's events in a separate post, but maybe tomorrow. It's been a busy day!

"Thank you to Melynda and Felice of for offering me a few moments today to share my postal passion with you. I have no affiliation with the United States Postal Service, except as a patron, so I am here unofficially as a representative of the Letter Writers Alliance, the International Union of Mail Artists, and Postcrossing to introduce to you the new international rate postage stamp featuring a photograph of my home for almost 35 years, Lancaster County. I would like to read the Postal Service’s brief description of the stamp.

I initially contacted last Friday after I learned there would be no official First Day of Issue Ceremony for this stamp. I had a love of letters, motivation, and a vague idea that I could somehow organize an event to properly recognize this small but beautiful piece of postal and Lancaster County history. I have always loved mail—everything about it intrigues me—pen and paper, postage and postmarks. Airmail is particularly fascinating with the added allure of foreign lands, the real or imagined mystery and romance. My grandma still has all the letters she exchanged with my grandpa during their engagement while he was stationed in the South Pacific during World War II. I am sure each of you here today has at least a few letters tucked away for safekeeping.

When you write a letter, you are writing a piece of personal history, whether you are reporting a once-in-a-lifetime event or your everyday activities. You are creating a record of your relationship with another person, you are giving them the gift of your time and yourself, a story no one but you can write. Personal and business correspondence of our relatives and those who go on to become figures of larger historical importance is one of the greatest resources we have for studying our personal and collective history. boasts an extensive collection available for use in our research.

So many people lament that no one writes letters anymore, and I worry and wonder what future histories will look like when emails and tweets are the only remaining records of our communications. I certainly do not expect everyone to share my level of enthusiasm for Real Mail, as my parents and I came to call our cards and letters exchanged while I was away at college. But as lovers of history, I encourage you to make time this weekend to put pen to paper and share a piece of yourself with a family member or friend, and perhaps you will want to mail it off with the new Lancaster County postage stamp as well. Thank you."

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