Smithsonian 'Mail Call' exhibit to arrive at National Churchill Museum


Sorting letters for their destinations during World War I.
Contributed Sorting letters for their destinations during World War I.

The Smithsonian's traveling exhibit "Mail Call" will stop in Fulton on its national 15-city tour. The exhibit will be at the National Churchill Museum on Westminster College's campus from Aug. 9 through Oct. 19.

Mail Call tells the story of military mail and communication during times of conflict. Amy Cantone, archivist and curator at the National Churchill Museum, described the exhibit as dynamic. She said it is a good fit for the National Churchill Museum because Churchill cared about all troops. She said Mail Call is a way for the museum to honor those who served.

"Overall, I'm excited to learn more about that story," Cantone said. "It's something important and many people do have connections to people who have served overseas and they understand just how important those letters and care packages are."

The exhibit's stations will include documents, photographs, illustrations and audio elements to show how military mail communication has changed over time. Mail Call will include a "Victory Mail" kit - a microfilm process used during World War II to lessen the weight of personal letters. One mailbag could hold 150,000 microfilmed letters.

The stations will highlight excerpts from letters between military members and their loved ones at home. In a press release, National Churchill Interim Director Kit Freudenberg described letters as a way to unite military members and their families during times of conflict. She said the exhibit highlights that communication.

""Mail Call' is a celebration of that moment when a soldier's name is shouted out and a parcel is handed through the crowd from home to its eager recipient...that moment when the front line and home front connect," Freudenberg said in the press release.

Cantone said the exhibit has seven stations that look at military mail from the American Revolution through more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It is as comprehensive as possible," Cantone said.

Mail Call is on loan from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling exhibition Service. Lynn Heidelbaugh of the National Postal Museum described the importance mail has to men and women in the military in a press release about the exhibit.

"Writing and receiving correspondence has a significant power to shape morale," Heidelbaugh said. "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."