Postage Stamps with Arkansas Connections
Special stamps are created to recognize people, events, and themes of national interest. They reflect popular culture and provide a unique lens for understanding history. Although stamp designs were initially chosen by the postmaster general, the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee (CSAC) assumed selection responsibilities in 1957. Following official guidelines, the CSAC Committee recommends stamps to the postmaster general, who makes the final decision on stamps selected to be used by the U.S. Postal Service.
Some postage stamps related to Arkansas reflect a direct connection with the state, while others have more indirect relationships through agriculture, business, and education.
Stamps related to Arkansas include the following, in alphabetical order:
Angelou, Maya (2015)
This stamp honors Maya Angelou, the author of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, although the U.S. Postal Service faced criticism for unknowingly including a quotation not attributable to Angelou.
Arkansas River Navigation System (1968)
This stamp commemorates the opening of the McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System.
Arkansas Sesquicentennial (1986)
This stamp, issued for the state’s 150th birthday, depicts the Old State House.
Asawa, Ruth (2020)
Ruth Asawa was an acclaimed artist known for looped-wire sculptures, which are featured on the stamps issued in her honor. As a child, she was interned at the Rohwer Relocation Center in Arkansas.
Bates, Daisy Gatson (2009)
A stamp honoring publisher and civil rights activist Daisy Gatson Bates of Little Rock was issued as a part of the Civil Rights Pioneers series and commemorating the 100th anniversary of the NAACP.
Civil War (1995)
The Civil War series features Jefferson Davis, Robert E Lee, Stand Watie, and others. Cherokee leader Stand Watie commanded Confederate troops at the Battle of Pea Ridge in Arkansas and later became the only Native American in either army to earn a general’s rank.
Fox (Stone County) was the location for the first-day issuance of the 2023 stamp depicting a red fox. Variations of fox stamps were also issued in 1978, 1987, 1998, and 2008.
Fulbright Scholarship Stamp (1996)
Fulbright stamps recognize the international educational exchange program founded by Senator J. William Fulbright.
Gone with the Wind (1990)
The Old Mill in North Little Rock (Pulaski County), which was featured in the opening shot of the 1939 movie Gone with the Wind, was the site of the unveiling of postage stamps issued in honor of the movie.
Great River Road (1966)
The Great River Road stamp recognizes the 5,600-mile Great River Road connecting the United States and Canada, from New Orleans, Louisiana to Kenora, Ontario. The Great River Road is a collection of state and local roads that runs through ten states, including Arkansas, and mostly follows the Mississippi River.
Greetings from America Series (2002)
All stamps in this series were released on April 4, 2002. The Arkansas stamp features Bathhouse Row in Hot Springs (Garland County), the Buffalo River, and Gunner Pool in the Ozark National Forest.
Johnson, John H. (2012)
John H. Johnson, born in Arkansas City (Arkansas County), was the publisher of magazines such as Ebony and Jet and was the first African American on the Forbes list of the 400 wealthiest persons. This stamp was issued as part of the Black Heritage series.
Joplin, Scott (1983)
Raised near Texarkana (Miller County), Scott Joplin popularized ragtime music and composed the famous “Maple Leaf Rag.” This stamp was issued as part of the Black Heritage series.
Largest Delta: Mississippi River Delta (2006)
The Mississippi River Delta was cited as the largest delta in the Wonders of America: Land of Superlatives series.
MacArthur, Douglas (1971)
Born in Little Rock, Douglas MacArthur was a distinguished military hero who rose to the rank of General of the Army.
Several stamps show the significance of the Mississippi River to Arkansas.
Marquette and Jolliet Explorations (1898 and 1968)
The stamps “Marquette on the Mississippi” (1898) in the Trans-Mississippi Issue and “Marquette Explorer” in 1968 commemorated explorations of the area that includes what is now Arkansas.
Mighty Mississippi Series (2022)
This series features a stamp for each state along the path of the Mississippi River.
New Deal Postal Mural Art (2019)
The “Air Mail” stamp was issued at Piggott (Clay County) to honor post office murals painted in the 1930s and 1940s as part of the nation’s Depression-era New Deal program.
Overland Mail (1958 Centennial)
Butterfield’s Overland Mail Company carried the first successful overland transcontinental mail by stagecoach through Arkansas as it went from the Mississippi River to California. Its two main routes ran through Arkansas, westward from Memphis and south from Missouri, connecting in Fort Smith (Sebastian County). This stamp was issued to commemorate Butterfield’s 100th anniversary.
Poultry Industry (1948)
This stamp commemorates the centennial of the American Poultry Industry and celebrates the production of poultry and poultry products in America, including the significant poultry industry in Arkansas.
Presidential Libraries (2005)
This stamp commemorates the fiftieth anniversary of the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955. The Clinton Presidential Library and Museum is included in this series.
Pulaski, Casimir (1931)
Pulaski County in Arkansas was named for Casimir Pulaski, a Polish nobleman and brigadier general in the American Revolution.
A stamp honoring Sequoyah, creator of a Cherokee syllabary, was issued as the first stamp in the Great Americans series. Sequoyah lived in Arkansas for a time and was in a delegation of western Cherokee that went to Washington DC in 1828 to resolve several issues with U.S. authorities, including land rights and boundaries in Arkansas.
State Flags (1976 and 2008)
The American Bicentennial Flag series for U.S. states and territories (1976) features the Arkansas state flag. The Flags of Our Nation series (2008) includes an Arkansas stamp featuring the state flag as well as the image of a duck.
Trolley Street Cars (1983)
A series featuring historic streetcars from across the United States included a stamp with an illustration of the horse-drawn Sulphur Rock Street Car from Sulphur Rock (Independence County).
Valentine’s Day (Love Stamps) (1990)
In 1990, Romance (White County) was chosen as the location for first-day issuance of the “Love” stamp. The Romance Post Office provides a special postmark each year for Valentine’s Day.
For additional information:
Brennan, Sheila Ann. Stamping American Memory: Collectors, Citizens, and the Post. Digital Humanities. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2018. Online at https://www.loc.gov/item/2018024343/ (accessed September 21, 2023).
Dwyer, Colin. 2015. “USPS Picks Perfect Line for Maya Angelou Stamp—If Only It Were Hers.” NPR, April 8, 2015. https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/04/08/398317105/maya-angelous-forever-stamp-forever-in-error (accessed September 21, 2023).
Greenberg, I. “Postage and Power: U.S. Nationalism and the 1970s ‘Bicentennial’ and ‘Americana’ Stamp Series.” Journal of Social History 49, no. 1 (2015): 53–76.
Harris, H. E., ed. US/BNA Postage Stamp Catalog. Florence, AL: Whitman Publishing, 2023.
Kaufmann, Patricia. “The Rebel Post.” Article originally published in Scott’s Monthly Stamp Journal, April 1976. Online at https://www.trishkaufmann.com/rebel-post (accessed September 21, 2023).
Laymon, Sherry. “John McClellan and the Arkansas River Navigation Project.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 69 (Summer 2010): 140–169.
Peters, George. “A Philatelic Glimpse into Arkansas’s Past.” Arkansas Historical Quarterly 30 (Spring 1971): 53–59.
Petersham, Maud, and Miska Petersham. America’s Stamps: The Story of One Hundred Years of U.S. Postage Stamps. New York: Macmillan Company, 1947. Online at https://archive.org/details/americasstampsst0000maud_r5s9/mode/2up (accessed September 21, 2023).
Shampo, Marc A. “Stamp Vignette on Medical Science: Mary Breckenridge—Pioneer Nurse Brings Modern Nursing to Rural Environment.” Mayo Clinic Proceedings 74, no. 12 (1999): 1312. Online at https://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(11)64180-3/fulltext (accessed September 21, 2023).
Smithsonian National Postal Museum. https://postalmuseum.si.edu/ (accessed September 21, 2023).
Fort Smith, Arkansas
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