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New Capitol Exhibit Focuses on Postal History in Arkansas Display Can Be Viewed Through Memorial Day

Posted on: 02/07/2023 4:30 pm


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(LITTLE ROCK, ARK.) –  Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston invites the public to come to the State Capitol and view the newly installed exhibit, “Special Delivery: Postal History in Arkansas.”

“Our State Capitol curators have done a great job, as always, on this exhibit. It is very educational about part of our history that many people may not know about,” said Thurston. Author Winifred Gallagher wrote, “The history of its post office is nothing less than the story of America.” This exhibit seeks to tell part of that story.

In 1775, Continental Congress began the process of creating a postal system to unify and connect the 13 colonies. No longer willing to trust the British postal system, Congress created its own and named Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster. In 1792, Congress passed and President George Washington signed the Postal Service Act, which provided incentives for newspapers to be sent through the mail to promote civic and political engagement in the early republic.

As the United States grew in size and population, the post office also expanded. In Arkansas, the expansion of the Postal Service influenced pioneers to settle further into the untamed territorial land and, eventually, establish an independent state. Among the items displayed is a postal cabinet, on loan from Arkansas Post Museum State Park, that was used at Arkansas Post from the late 1800s until 1941.

In an era before mass communication, the post office connected citizens to each other and their government. This early Postal Service looked very different than the one we’re used to today. There were no mailboxes or house-to-house delivery: instead, people collected their mail from the local post office, which was the central place of importance in rural Arkansas communities. As the federal government improved the transportation infrastructure, postal roads linked post offices—and, as a result, towns—together.

In addition to being proof of payment for mail service, postage stamps have become a way to recognize noteworthy individuals, organizations, concepts and locations. Arkansas-related subjects have been honored in numerous ways since the early 20th century. Appreciation for stamps and stamp collecting preserve the history of Arkansas, the United States, and the world.

"Special Delivery: A Postal History of Arkansas" will be on display in the Arkansas State Capitol’s first floor galleries through Memorial Day. The Capitol is open to the public from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on weekends and holidays.