National Postal Museum Library

Your philatelic adventure starts here. The Smithsonian's National Postal Museum houses one of the largest and most significant philatelic and postal history collections in the world and one of the world’s most comprehensive library resources on philately and postal history. The Library has one of the world's largest and most accessible collections of philatelic literature. The National Postal Museum is dedicated to the preservation, study and presentation of postal history and philately through stamps and objects. The Library supports the museum's mission: Through the preservation and interpretation of our postal and philatelic collections, the Smithsonian National Postal Museum educates, challenges, and inspires its audiences on the breadth of American experiences.

The museum uses exhibits, educational public programs and research to make this rich history available to scholars, philatelists, collectors and visitors from around the world. The National Postal Museum Library is one of 21 specialized libraries in the Smithsonian Libraries and Archives system. The National Philatelic Collection was the basis of the Library when it was established in 1990 (opened to the public in 1993). Now, with more than 40,000 books, journals, catalogues and documents, the National Postal Museum Library is among the world's largest postal history and philatelic research facilities.

Hope Diamond interview in the Postal Museum Library


Although the resources at the National Postal Museum Library focus on the postal history and philately of the United States, the collections are international in scope.

  • More than 12,000 books, 9,000 serials, manuscripts, photographs and many auction and stamp catalogues
  • Our holdings include files of:
    • Third Assistant Postmaster General
    • Highway Post Office
    • Aerial Mail Service
    • Railway Mail Service
    • Panama Canal Zone Post Office
  • Private collections include those of:
    • Thaddeus Hyatt
    • Frederick Melville
    • George Turner
  • Rare book collection includes:
    • J.W. Scott & Co. Monthly Price List
    • Annotated copies of the Catalogue of the Philatelic Library of the Earl of Crawford, K.T.
    • Catalogue of the Royal Philatelic Collection.