Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition Offers Fascinating Look at Military Mail

Free Exhibition Held at Tryon Palace’s Duffy Gallery, May 10-July 20

NEW BERN, NC – May 10-July 20

Tryon Palace will host the traveling version of the National Postal Museum’s permanent exhibition, “Mail Call,” from Saturday, May 10 through July 20. Organized and circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service (SITES), this free exhibition explores the history of America’s military postal system, and examines how even in today’s era of instant communication, troops overseas continue to treasure mail delivered from home. 

“Mail has always played a very important role in the lives of the men and women of our armed forces and their families at home,” said exhibit curator Lynn Heidelbaugh of the National Postal Museum. “Writing and receiving correspondence has a significant power to shape morale. The relationship between mail and morale is expressed time and again in messages from deployed military personnel, and it is a compelling reason behind the extraordinary efforts to maintain timely mail service.”

Throughout American history, the military and postal service have combined forces to deliver mail under challenging—often extreme—circumstances. But whether it takes place at headquarters or in hostile territory, on a submarine or in the desert, mail call forges a vital link with home. 

With compelling documents, photographs, illustrations and audio stations, “Mail Call” celebrates the importance of this correspondence. Visitors can discover how military mail communication has changed throughout history, learn about the armed forces postal system and experience military mail through interesting objects and correspondence both written and recorded on audiotape. The exhibit offers an appreciation of the importance of military mail and the hard work that has gone into connecting service men and women to their government, community and loved ones at home. 

“Mail Call” features a number of items that bring to life the story of military mail. One such highlight is a kit with supplies for “Victory Mail,” a microfilm process developed in World War II to dramatically shrink the volume and weight of personal letters. Beginning in 1942, V-Mail used standardized stationery and microfilm processing to produce lighter, smaller cargo—150,000 microfilmed letters could fit in one mailbag. Visitors will also gain access to dramatic firsthand records and heartfelt sentiments through excerpts from letters exchanged between writers on the front line and the home front. The exhibit also explores how the military postal system works today and describes the new ways the men and women of the armed forces are communicating with home. 

From the earliest handwritten letters that took days or even months to deliver, to today’s instant communication via email or the Internet, “Mail Call” presents the changing look and format of mail pieces through the decades. It also examines the complex operations systems set in place to ensure safe delivery, and it explores the incalculable role mail plays in maintaining the morale of American soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen.

SITES has been sharing the wealth of Smithsonian collections and research programs with millions of people outside Washington, D.C., for 60 years. SITES connects Americans to their shared cultural heritage through a wide range of exhibitions about art, science and history, which are shown wherever people live, work and play. Exhibition descriptions and tour schedules are available at www.sites.si.edu. 

The installation of this exhibition at Tryon Palace, specifically located in the North Carolina History Center’s Duffy Exhibition Gallery, is sponsored locally by the Tryon Palace Foundation. For more information about Tryon Palace or the Tryon Palace Foundation, call 252-639-3500 or visit www.tryonpalace.org.

Tryon Palace Media Contact
Craig Ramey
Marketing and Communications, Manager
Phone: (252) 639-3511
E-mail: cramey@tryonpalace.org
Web: www.tryonpalace.org

About Tryon Palace
Tryon Palace, located in New Bern, NC, is part of the Office of Archives and History, an agency of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. Tryon Palace is one of North Carolina’s most significant historic sites. It is the home of the Governor’s Palace, North Carolina’s first colonial and first state capitol, and includes historic buildings, gardens and the North Carolina History Center, which revolutionizes the visitor experience through use of the latest interactive  technology. The History Center includes galleries, a performance hall, the museum store and a waterfront café. Tryon Palace’s mission is to engage present and future generations in the history of North Carolina from early settlement in 1710, the development of statehood and into the mid-twentieth century. It is dedicated to collecting, interpreting and preserving objects, buildings, landscapes and events that enrich understanding of the making of our state and nation.
Tickets and visitor information are available at Tryon Palace, 529 S. Front St., New Bern. For directions and further information about special events, programs or group tours, employment and more, visit our web site: www.tryonpalace.org or phone (800) 767-1560 or (252) 639-3500.
 
About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources
The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources (NCDCR) is the state agency with a vision to be the leader in using the state’s cultural resources to build the social, cultural and economic future of North Carolina. Led by Secretary Susan Kluttz, NCDCR’s mission is to enrich lives and communities by creating opportunities to experience excellence in the arts, history and libraries in North Carolina that will spark creativity, stimulate learning, preserve the state’s history and promote the creative economy. NCDCR was the first state organization in the nation to include all agencies for arts and culture under one umbrella.

Through arts efforts led by the N.C. Arts Council, the N.C. Symphony and the N.C. Museum of Art, NCDCR offers the opportunity for enriching arts education for young and old alike and spurring the economic stimulus engine for our state’s communities. NCDCR’s Divisions of State Archives, Historical Resources, State Historic Sites and State History Museums preserve, document and interpret North Carolina’s rich cultural heritage to offer experiences of learning and reflection. NCDCR’s State Library of North Carolina is the principal library of state government and builds the capacity of all libraries in our state to develop and to offer access to educational resources through traditional and online collections including genealogy and resources for the blind and physically handicapped.

NCDCR annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council and the State Archives. NCDCR champions our state’s creative industry that accounts for more than 300,000 jobs and generates nearly $18.5 billion in revenues. For more information, please call (919) 807-7300 or visit www.ncdcr.gov.

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