National Postal Museum

The Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum is home to more than 300,000 U.S. and foreign envelopes, newspaper wrappers, and letter sheets—or postal “covers.” For many years, the cover collection was stored in metal file cabinets with drawers crammed and overflowing, which bent and creased these paper artifacts. Locating and removing materials from these drawers was difficult without further damaging the items.

In 1999, the museum targeted this collection for special attention. Staff designed custom protective folders for the covers, placed the folders in specially designed, archival boxes, and stored the boxes in new cabinetry. The staff began organizing and properly storing the items, and volunteers and interns have continued their work.

Today the project is almost complete and the entire cover collection will soon be physically stable and secure to be enjoyed by visitors and researchers for years to come.