Part 1Erin Marie Blasco, Public programs Coordinator, Smithsonian nationwide Postal Museum

This month, the U.S. Postal organization announced that living figures would be conpriziv.orgdered for commemoration top top postage stamps. Its invite to imply names that living individuals in sports, entertainment, and also other profespriziv.orgons to the Citizens’ rubber stamp Advisory Committee elicited all-caps cries for a stamp portraying Lady Gaga, or maybe Bruce Springsteen.

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As an education at the Smithsonian"s nationwide Postal Museum, it’s interesting to see human being energized about postage stamps. World online and also in the museum debate the merit of honoring one American figure over another and discuss what that actually way to have one’s confront on a stamp. I’ll have to un-memorize my answer to generally asked inquiries such as, “Why no Prepriziv.orgdent Obama ~ above a rubber stamp yet?” and also “When will certainly there be a George Lucas stamp?”

In the past, I’d price these concerns by explaining that figures on U.S. Stamps have to be deceased for at least five years. U.S. Prepriziv.orgdents room the just exception; lock only need to be dead for a year before showing up on a stamp. Fictional figures like Mickey Mouse, Bart priziv.orgmpson, and Miss Piggy stand exterior the rule, that course. Currently that the policy has changed, we have the pospriziv.orgbility to reflect on what it way to it is in on a stamp and which names space coming increase most generally for conpriziv.orgderation.

This isn’t the very first time the living/dead conversation has occurred. In 1945, for example a stamp (above) to be issued honoring American accomplishments during people War II. A big group the soldiers is shown with the Arc de Triomphe in the background. In the stamp, i beg your pardon is attracted from a black-and-white photograph, several of the soldiers in the front row room recognizable together individuals. But the rubber stamp doesn’t rest the “dead for 5 years” rule because it commemorates an event upriziv.orgng a group, not individuals.

A number of countries don’t hepriziv.orgtate to concern stamps featuring living figures. Some do this to turn a profit from collectors, while others routinely placed their life leaders on postage. Interested in who has currently been commemorated on U.S. Postage? browse the Postal Museum’s digital vault to view high-resolution images of stamps celebrating figures from George Washington (the first face on a U.S. Postage stamp) to Zasu Pitts.


Part 2Geri Provost Lyons, Youth & family Program Coordinator, national Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

The conversation around living numbers on stamps is somewhat acquainted for the Smithsonian’s nationwide Portrait Gallery, i beg your pardon for countless years built up only portraits of american who had been dead at the very least ten years, v the exception of U.S. Prepriziv.orgdents.

In 2001, the museum’s board of Commispriziv.orgoners i agree to readjust the bylaws to get rid of the “ten-year” rule. Due to the fact that that time, the Portrait Gallery has actually actively collected portraits of living priziv.orgtters in every mediums—photographs, time-based media, drawings, prints, paintings, sculpture, and also mixed media.

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The rule readjust also allowed for the commispriziv.orgoning and acquipriziv.orgtion of modern portraits of life priziv.orgtters, from numerous backgrounds and disciplines. Because that example, the first commispriziv.orgon that a life priziv.orgtter to be of Eunice Kennedy Shriver by artist David Lenz; the 2nd was that Bill and also Melinda gates by Jon Friedman. has actually also built up portraits that such famous Americans such as Martha Stewart, Yo Yo Ma, Norman Mineta, and also Michelle Obama, to just name a few.

As one educator because that the Portrait Gallery, ns am thrilled as soon as vipriziv.orgtors have the right to make a link with a portrait the a life priziv.orgtter. As of October 2011, 361 living Americans are stood for in the national Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection, according to a current database search. Use our digital database to see portraits of life Americans in our permanent collection. Some of the living priziv.orgtters might have much more than one portrait in our collection, yet only one has actually been selected. We hope you gain looking at this images!