National Postal Museum Display | Southern Museum

National Postal Museum Display Items at the Southern Museum

Southern Museum to Display Unique Items from the National Postal Museum

The Southern Museum will be displaying unique and fascinating items from National Postal Museum (NPM) in Washington D.C., a Smithsonian Institution, open to the public beginning October 11, 2017.

As an affiliate of the Smithsonian, our loan with the National Postal Museum includes materials from both the Civil War and the Railway Mail Service after the war. Specially selected items from the NPM augment our current Civil War and Railroad collections and exhibits.

National Postal Museum Displays

Items on loan from the NPM include:

  • Two Owney Tags that pertain to the Atlanta and Nashville areas
  • Two Railway Mail Service (RMS) Badges
  • Railway Mail Sack
  • Railway Mail-on-the-Fly Pouch
  • Four Civil War Envelopes (also known as “covers”)

These items along with photographs and interpretive panels are designed to supplement our Railroads: Lifelines of the Civil War and Glover Machine Works: Casting a New South galleries. The National Postal Museum display serves to demonstrate the importance of mail to a changing America and the vital role that railroads played in providing these mail services.

Setting Up the Postal Museum Display

The National Postal Museum Display was made possible by the generous contributions of Lake City, Acworth, and Bartow Animal Hospitals, Sons of The American Legion/American Legion, The Kennesaw Museum Foundation, and the City of Kennesaw.

OWNEY – The Postal Clerk’s Dog

Owney On Rug With Tags

Owney On Rug With Tags

In the late 1800s mail delivery relied upon the Railway Mail Service. The RMS clerks often worked long and tiring hours, but in 1888 a few of these clerks in Albany, New York found companionship in a scruffy little dog named Owney.

Owney, a regular at the Albany post office for some time, was not content staying in his home city. Before long the adventurous canine began following mail onto the RMS mail cars, and riding the trains to new locations. Owney’s trips on the rails took him all across the United States.

A Sampling of the Many Dog Tags Collected for Owney

A Sampling of the Many Dog Tags Collected for Owney

During his travels, Owney became immensely popular among both the RMS clerks and the public. His popularity led to him becoming the unofficial mascot of the Railway Mail Service. Being a celebrity at the time, people and cities showered the little dog with gifts whenever he visited.

Sometimes Owney received vouchers for milk or other treats, but most often people gave him baggage tags displaying where he had been. As part of our partnership with the National Postal Museum, we currently have two of these tags on display.

In 1895 Owney took the next step in his journey, and he traveled around the world by train and by steamship. No matter the distance, Owney always found his way back to Albany. In 1897 Owney passed away during a trip to Toledo, Ohio.

Owney with Railway Mail Service Clerks

Owney with Railway Mail Service Clerks

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