Lewis Hine: Made in America

This collectible keepsake package includes one randomly selected pane of Made in America stamps and one randomly selected Digital Color Postmark First Day Cover. Click the image for details.

We love the iconic portraits of industrial workers found on the Made in America Forever® stamps—and while it’s obvious that those pictured are working hard, have you ever thought about the work of the photographer who created the images?

Documentary photographer Lewis Hine (who was born on this day in 1874) created 11 of the 12 stamp images, and four of those document the construction of the Empire State Building, the tallest building in the world from 1931 to 1972. Look at the photos, and take a second to think about this: Where exactly was Hine standing when he took those photos of construction workers balancing on steel girders, with nothing but empty sky behind them?

Capturing those classic scenes involved some risk. In 1930, Hine wrote about one of his most adventurous days at the Empire State Building in a letter to a friend:

My six months of skyscraping have culminated in a few extra thrills . . . just before the high derrick was taken down, they swung me out in a box from the hundreth floor—a sheer drop of nearly a quarter of a mile—to get some shots of the tower. The Boss argued that it had never been done and could never be done again and that, anyway, it’s safer than a ride on a Pullman or a walk in the city streets. So he prevailed.

During his career, Hine also achieved fame as a social reformer.

Hine duo

USPS has issued two other stamps featuring photographs by Lewis Hine, in 1998 (Celebrate the Century: 1910s; left) and 2002 (Masters of American Photography; right).

Best known for pictures of immigrants, child laborers, and industrial workers, he viewed his subjects with compassion and their harsh surroundings with an unflinching eye. His photographs of children working in mines, mills, and factories led Congress to try to regulate child labor, but the Supreme Court declared early laws unconstitutional.

Empire State Building Stamps for Skyscraper Day

Look up, everyone. It’s Skyscraper Day!

Because they go up so quickly these days, it’s easy to forget just how much man power it takes to construct a skyscraper. Thousands of workers—like the ones shown on these stamps—spent more than a year erecting one of America’s most iconic landmarks: the Empire State Building in New York City. We are in awe of their achievement.

Empire State 5

Empire State Building workers, from left to right: a man on a hoisting ball, a man guiding a beam, a welder, a derrick man, and riveters. All five photographs were taken by Lewis Hine.

You can find all five of these stamps on the recently released Made in America: Building a Nation stamp sheet, which comes in five different versions. Two of them feature larger images of Empire State Building iron workers taken by Lewis Hine.

MadeInAmerica-Forever-Panes-v4MadeInAmerica-Forever-Panes-v4The Made in America: Building a Nation Forever® stamps are , by calling  (), and in Post Offices around the country.

Made in America for Labor Day

“The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker.” So wrote social activist Helen Keller in 1908. We couldn’t agree more. On this Labor Day, let’s pause and salute all of America’s workers: past, present, and future.

MadeInAmerica-Forever-Block12-BGv1Issued earlier this year, the honor the men and women who helped build our country.

Coal miners in states such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia often braved dangerous conditions to do their jobs. Coal, the fruit of their labor, was used to make coke for steel, which formed the foundation of our cities’ majestic buildings.

Skyscrapers like the Empire State Building were erected by iron workers, including riveters and welders. This massive high-rise required an astounding amount of man power. It took slightly more than a year to complete and opened in 1931. Thousands of workers—many of whom were immigrants and Native Americans—helped build the iconic structure.


Commemorate the Made in America: Building a Nation stamp release with a collectible t-shirt that features the color postmark on the front and stamp selvage photographs on the back. Click the image for details.

American industry extended beyond skyscraper construction. Building the country’s railroads was a massive and important undertaking. Since the middle of the 19th century, when the first transcontinental railroad was completed, railroads have carried countless tons of cargo across the nation.

Also, as the photographs on these stamps attest, women’s contributions to early 20th-century industry were vital. Textile and millinery workers spent untold hours toiling in factories without much recognition.

MadeInAmerica-Forever-single-v3The extraordinary nature of early 20th-century industry hasn’t faded from the public consciousness. The photograph of a powerhouse mechanic on the pane is a staple of popular culture. It depicts the sort of worker Lewis Hine (1874–1940), the photographer who shot many of the images on these stamps, cared about the most.

“It is for the sake of emphasis, not exaggeration, that I select the more pictorial personalities when I do the industrial portrait,” he wrote in 1933, “for it is the only way that I can illustrate my thesis that the human spirit is the big thing after all.”

The Made in America: Building a Nation Forever® stamps are , by calling (), and in Post Offices nationwide.

Made in America Stamps: A Labor of Love for One Couple

Wedding invitations are typically mailed using one of the Postal Service’s many or . But as Secretary of Labor Tom Perez shared during the Made in America: Building a Nation first day of issue event, one recently-engaged couple has a different stamp in mind.

news19s2Carianna Suiter and Jason Kuruvilla’s relationship began after they met through their jobs at the Department of Labor. When it was time to discuss invitations for their upcoming wedding, the couple decided that the were the perfect way to honor their love story.

They received a special mention from Perez during the ceremony, as well as the congratulations of Postmaster General Pat Donahoe and other attendees.

Made in America Makes the World Stronger

Five PanesUSPS has memorialized the contributions of America’s industrial-era workers on a sheet of 12 new Forever® stamps titled . The stamps, which feature black-and-white photographs of early 20th-century industrial workers, were dedicated earlier today at the U.S. Department of Labor in Washington, D.C., by Postmaster General Pat Donahoe.

“With Labor Day around the corner, the Postal Service is proud to honor the men and women who helped build this country with their own hands,” said Donahoe. “They mined the coal that warmed our homes. They made the clothes we wore on our backs. Let each stamp serve as a small reminder of the dedication, work ethic, and sacrifices that make America great.”

Joining Donahoe at the ceremony was recently-appointed Secretary of the U.S. Department of Labor Tom Perez, Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO Elizabeth Shuler, and other union leaders.

“Stamps are like a miniature American portrait gallery,” said Labor Secretary Perez. “They are an expression of our values and a connection to our past. That’s why it’s so fitting that that this series depicts Americans at work. These iconic images tell a powerful story about American economic strength and prosperity. These men and women and millions like them really did build a nation.”

Each stamp on the sheet features a different man or woman at work. They include: an airplane maker, textile worker, powerhouse mechanic, millinery apprentice, linotyper, and a coal miner. Also featured are workers at the Empire State Building—a derrick worker, welder, laborer and riveters.

The Made in America: Building A Nation Forever® stamps are available now at , by calling 800-STAMP-24 (), and at Post Offices nationwide.

First-Day-of-Issue Postmark
You have 60 days to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail. Affix the stamps to envelopes of your choice, address the envelopes (to yourself or others), and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:

Made in America: Building a Nation Stamps
Special Cancellations
PO Box 92282
Washington, DC 20090-2282

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, USPS will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark up to a quantity of 50. For more than 50, the price is 5 cents each. All orders must be postmarked by Oct. 8, 2013.