Stamp Knowledge

US Stamps: Women in the US Stamps

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US Stamps: Women in the US Stamps

As we all know, stamps are the carrier of a country’s culture. Through these stamps, we can see a country’s culture, and US stamps are no exception.

Since the massive development of the women’s movement in the 19th century, the role of women has played an increasingly important role in society. Stamps, as windows to culture, have also been influenced by this trend. Today we will explore the rise of female power reflected through the US stamps since 19 century

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The first set of US stamps featuring women was issued in 1983 with the theme of the Columbian Exposition. On these 7 stamps, we can see Queen Isabella of Spain. The first US stamp to honor an American woman was the 8 cents Matha Washington stamp of 1902.

Martha Dandridge Custis Washington was the wife of the first president of the United States – George Washington. During her lifetime, she was often referred to as “Lady Washington”.

In the 19th century, though, the women’s movement began to flourish. However, it can be seen from this US stamp here that women still existed to some extent in dependence on men. The stamp shows more of the woman’s socio-political status as First Lady of the United States than her valuable contributions. We can also see from the stamp’s selection that the woman is still shown with a serious face and dressed in clothes appropriate to her social status

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From 1902 to 1960, there were more than twenty US stamps featuring women released. Especially in 1948, five women were featured on the stamps (there were 1-2 stamps every year on average):

Progress of Women (July 19, 1948,3¢)

Clara Barton (September 7, 1948,3¢)

Gold Star Mothers (September 21, 1948,3¢)

Juliette Gordon Low (October 29, 1948,3¢)

Moina Michael (November 9, 1948,3¢)

According to what we already know, US post office stamps will reflect U.S. history to some extent. So what exactly happened in 1948 when 5 stamps featuring women were issued in one year?

Progress of Women (July 19, 1948,3¢)

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The stamps are to memorize the 100 years of the progress of women. Three great women were selected as the feature of the US postal service stamps. They are Carrie C. Catt, a leader in the temperance movement and the women’s suffrage movement; Elizabeth Cady Stanton, an abolitionist who worked with Lucretia Mott to declare women’s rights; and Lucretia Mott, abolitionist and a suffragist. In 1848, she presided over the historic Seneca Falls convention, which issued the Declaration of Sentiments, a call for equal treatment of women.

Residual 4 stamps feature individuals and organizations for women.

Moina Belle Michael was an American professor and humanitarian. She conceived the idea of using poppies as a symbol to remember those who served in World War I. Juliette Gordon Low was the American founder of Girl Scouts of the USA. Clarissa Harlowe Barton was an American nurse who founded the American Red Cross. She was a hospital nurse in the American Civil War, a teacher and a patent clerk

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American Gold Star Mothers, Inc. (AGSM) is a private nonprofit organization of American mothers who lost sons or daughters in the service of the United States Armed Forces.

Compared to the image of women at the beginning, the US stamps here show a much richer theme of pictures of women. Not only are there individual women, but also organizations that serve women. Women are no longer seen as subordinate to men, and their social attributes begin to be strengthened. These stamps feature women from all walks of life, from nurses to teachers to the founders of organizations. Opportunities offered to women in society are becoming more diverse.

From 1960 to 2000, many more stamps with female elements were issued, and the average number of female-themed stamps issued per year changed from 1-2 to 3-5. From 1993 (when eight stamps with a female theme were issued) to 2000, more than five stamps with a female theme were issued almost every year.

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How much are these US stamps?

This question may also help us to identify female power.

From 5 cents in 1893 to 32 cents in 2000, the denomination of the stamps featuring women subjects has gradually increased. While overall the price of stamps is rising, the increasing number of female-oriented stamps with denominations of 25 cents or more may also represent the rise of female power to some extent.

From 2000 to 2010, the number of US stamps featuring women has been steadily increasing. Take 2009 for example, there were nine stamps featuring women issued during that year.

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How much are these stamps?

Well, their denomination has been increased to 44 cents.

It is also interesting to note that, according to data from the World Bank, the female shares of the population continued to increase from 1960 to 1990, reaching a peak between 1990 and 2000. Coincidently, it was precisely during this time that a large number of stamps featuring women were issued, far exceeding the number issued previously.

Since 2011, according to the USPS, all commemorative stamps for the First-Class Mail one-ounce rate have been Forever stamps, equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce price. The value given in parentheses was the price of the stamp when first issued.

From 2011 to 2022, the number of female-themed US stamps issued has gradually stabilized, with no significant increase or decrease. Perhaps this also reflects that the women’s movement is entering a stable period of development.

Stamps are always the mirror of a country’s culture, and through them, we can observe many potential changes of the times. What interesting phenomena will we see in the stamps next time?

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