Happy Arbor Day!

This spring, why not plant a tree in your yard or neighborhood? Planting a tree next to your home not only cuts cooling costs by providing shade during the summer but also reduces heating costs during the winter by supplying a windbreak. Trees also help clean the air and provide cost-effective ways of cooling our streets and parks in the high heat of summer.

PlantTrees-Forever-single-BGv1This Forever® stamp is one of 16 stamps issued in 2011 that illustrate the simple things we can do to help the environment. You can find the entire set at usps.com/stamps—just search for “Go Green.”

Popular 1960s Stamps Find New Life in 2012

In the 1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson and his wife Lady Bird Johnson promoted efforts to make America more beautiful. The U.S. Postal Service encouraged participation in their beautification campaign with the issuance of five stamps.

For the first stamp (the third stamp down in the image below), a 5-cent commemorative issued in 1966, artist Gyo Fujikawa illustrated the Jefferson Memorial glimpsed through the branches of a flowering cherry tree.

The daughter of Japanese parents, Fujikawa worked for various companies in her career as a commercial artist including Walt Disney Studios, which she deemed “a most memorable and profound experience,” one she credits for the attention to detail seen in her work. During her career she wrote and illustrated more than four-dozen children’s books, including Babies (1963), credited with being the first children’s book to show infants of many nationalities and races.

In addition to the 1996 Beautification stamp, Fujikawa’s other USPS projects include the 20-cent commemorative stamp honoring the 50th anniversary of the International Peace Garden, issued in 1982, and a 4-cent stamp issued in 1960 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first treaty to promote mutual understanding and good will between Japan and the United States.

Walter D. Richards designed four stamps urging citizens to embrace the Johnsons’ beautification campaign. Scenes of a street, a highway, a park, and a city, each enhanced by flowers and flowering trees, encouraged people to use plants to beautify their surroundings.

The stamps, issued in 1969, were one among many of Richards’ projects for the U.S. Postal Service. Lady Bird Johnson introduced them to the public in January 1969. You can watch the video of her press conference here.

In addition to the Beautification of America series, Richards’ work appears on more than 30 other U.S. postage stamps, including a twelve-stamp architectural series that featured images ranging from Thomas Jefferson’s Rotunda at the University of Virginia to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater; the series was issued from 1979 to 1981. More information on each of his stamp projects can be found on the Smithsonian Institution’s National Postal Museum website.

This year USPS celebrates the centennial of the birth of Lady Bird Johnson and commemorates her beautification work with the release of a souvenir stamp sheet featuring adaptations of all five original 1960s stamps designed by Richards and Fujikawa. The souvenir sheet was issued last week and is now available online and in Post Offices nationwide

Posted in Activism, History, Lady Bird Johnson | Tagged Lady Bird Johnson

Rosa Parks, Civil Rights Pioneer, To Be Honored With Stamp in 2013

Fifty-seven years ago this month, Rosa Parks was arrested after refusing to give up her seat at the front of the Cleveland Avenue bus in Montgomery, Alabama. The response to her arrest was a boycott of Montgomery’s bus system that lasted 381 days and thrust a young local pastor, Martin Luther King, Jr., into the spotlight.


In 2013, the U.S. Postal Service will honor the 100th anniversary of the birth of Rosa Parks, an extraordinary American activist who became an iconic figure in the civil rights movement. The portrait that appears on the stamp (created by Thomas Blackshear II) emphasizes Parks’s quiet determination.

This First Day Cover is available for pre-order. Click image for info.

In addition to this stamp honoring Rosa Parks, USPS will issue two other stamps in 2013 to commemorate significant anniversaries in the struggle for African-American civil rights. One of them celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation; the other has not yet been revealed.

The Rosa Parks stamp will be issued as a Forever® stamp. (Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.) A date of issue has not yet been set, but !

Rosa Parks’s name and image used under license with the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self-Development. 


USPS has a tradition of honoring the nation’s civil rights leaders. In 2009, for example, we issued Civil Rights Pioneers, a sheet of 6 stamps celebrating the courage, commitment, and achievements of 12 leaders of the struggle for African-American civil rights. The stamps were issued February 21, 2009, at the NAACP annual meeting in New York City.

Who was the dedicating oDSC02574fficial?

Send your answer to uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com. From those who answer correctly, we will select nine people, at random, to receive the official First Day of Issue ceremony program from the event. (The program includes all 6 cancelled stamps.) A tenth person, also chosen at random, will receive the , a collectible packet that includes background information on the stamp subjects, a timeline, and a souvenir sheet of stamps.

The deadline for entries is midnight EST, Thursday, December 6. Winners will be notified by email. Good luck!

The correct answer to the contest question is Thurgood Marshall, Jr., member of the USPS Board of Governors. Thank you to everyone who entered. If you didn’t win this time, don’t worry; we’ve got plenty more contests planned for the coming weeks.

The Lasting Legacy of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

In just 10 days, USPS will issue a new sheet of 6 stamps honoring Lady Bird Johnson and her dedication to environmental and conservation projects. The First Day of Issue ceremony will take place at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas. Johnson—popularly known as “our environmental First Lady”—cofounded the center, then known as the National Wildflower Research Center, with her great friend, actress Helen Hayes, in 1982.

At that time, Hayes was one of the best-known actresses in the world. Like Johnson, she also had a lifelong passion for wildflowers and natural beauty. “Ever since I was very young,” she wrote in the forward to Betty Castro’s The Wildflower, “I liked to creep off to a field near my grandmother’s farm in Maryland, find a patch of wildflowers—red clover or field daises or such—curl up in it, and dream beautiful dreams.”

Proud of her role in the institution’s founding, Hayes noted in the Winter 1985 issue of the Center’s newsletter: “I joined Lady Bird Johnson . . . in the establishment of the much needed organization, based on my personal understanding and love for what we have been generously given by nature’s beauty . . . I am proud to be a part of this effort.”

Both women participated directly in the center’s work, attending countless fundraisers, benefits, and other events to raise contributions.

This keepsake features a sheet of 20 Helen Hayes stamps plus a First Day of Issue color postmark. Click for more info.

“Helen Hayes gave so generously of her talents and in the giving, brought joy into countless lives. I’m deeply grateful to have shared her life,” Johnson later wrote in the Center newsletter. “I will especially feel her spirit in the wildflower fields she loved and the legacy of native plants she championed through the work of the National Wildflower Research Center, which she co-founded with me. She will remain a national treasure in our hearts.”

Over the years, the center grew to be an international leader in research, education, and projects that encourage the use of wildflowers and native plants. Today it continues Johnson’s commitment to promote the beauty and sustainability of native wildflowers, plants, and landscapes. It was renamed the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in 1997.

The and other related philatelic products may be pre-ordered online. The First Day of Issue ceremony, which is free and open to the public, will take place Friday, November 30, at 11 a.m. CST. The 2011 Helen Hayes (Forever) stamp and related philatelic products are still available online.

Helen Hayes licensed by CMG Worldwide, Indianapolis, IN

A Global Day to Help the Earth

It’s World Environment Day, and we’re taking this opportunity to remember some of our efforts to go green and help save the Earth.

Since 1972, the United Nations Environment Programme has used this day to push green initiatives worldwide. Countries around the globe celebrate by encouraging their citizens to take steps toward a more eco-friendly lifestyle.

With small changes to our daily routines, we can all make a huge impact! The are a great reminder of ways to help keep our world clean and healthy for generations to come. What have you and your family done to reduce your environmental footprint?