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Blog > The Little Mail Carriers at the Postal History Foundation!

We have a super special treat for you today! The Little Mail Carriers have visited the Postal History Foundation in Arizona (USA), and are here to show the important work they do there, bringing stamps (and excitement!) to classrooms. Let’s go!

The Postal History Foundation (PHF for short) is located just west of the University of Arizona, in a residential neighborhood in central Tucson. It’s a non-profit organization with a dual mission of research and education: they provide stamps and lessons to students across the country and the world! We were excited to hear about this cool initiative… so we invited ourselves over for a visit. 😊

The Little Mail Carriers visit the Postal History Foundation

The building was a church many decades ago but now holds a workroom, a contract US Postal Service station, a museum area, the philatelic sales area, and the education department… as well as millions of postage stamps! We were going to deliver some mail to the postmaster, but were immediately distracted by the beautiful old post office in their museum section of the building, which is located just straight ahead across the lobby.

The Old Naco Post Office

This old post office is from the town of Naco, Arizona, which is on the southern border of Arizona and Mexico. It was originally ordered as a kit and set up in a building in Naco in the 1890s. All the wood, glass, and metal parts are the original ones! Normally, the Old Naco Post Office is very popular during tours and also with the students in their field trips, but sadly these are suspended because of the pandemic.

Inside the Old Naco Post Office Inside the Old Naco Post Office

We got to see their old hand cancelling machines, self-serve stamp dispensers and even an old letter sorting box (the wooden structure that looks like a grid) from the town of Casa Grande. Above in the mail sorting box are some scales for weighing mail. Below you can see a collection of hand stamps from around the state, such as “Special Delivery” or “Return to Sender.”

Special rubber stamps and cancellation marks

After looking at all of the cool machines in the Old Naco Post Office we decided to go to the current USPS contract station, which is in a little room off of the lobby. When going into the post office, we walked past more post office boxes from Naco that were preserved for viewing in the lobby. Here, you’ll also find a vintage pedestal USPS postal box — we put a donation in there to help with the kids educational program. We delivered our mail and looked at all the current US stamps for sale. The colorful stamps at our feet are the new Lunar New Year stamps. Did you know that 2021 is the year of the ox?

Post office and stamps at the PHF Stamp Discovery program

The kids program at the PHF is called Stamp Discovery. Every year it supports over 13,000 students and teachers across the United States and other countries with stamps, and lessons using stamps. Of course, this year has been a little different because of the pandemic, but it was still interesting to see the variety of lessons that teachers and parents can order for their students. In the education file room, they are stacked on top of the files, in shelves at the left and the right of us. These boxes contain lessons and stamp packets for students. If a teacher orders a lesson, for example, “Three Branches of US Government”, the teacher receives a worksheet that they can copy for their students, and stamp packets for each student to use with the lesson.

Lesson plans and stamp cabinets

Above you can see the filing cabinets that line the room and continue into another room. They contain US stamps filed by Scott number and also foreign stamps sorted by topics. If a child wants “dogs” to add to their stamp collection, they can write a letter or fill out the order form online, and the people who work and/or volunteer here will send her/him some dogs on stamps. The volunteers who work here are super heroes — they are what enables the education program to function and support so many children and teachers! During a normal year, students would visit the museum for field trips and the director of Stamp Discovery would visit classrooms in the city and suburbs of Tucson. Several of the libraries in Tucson have stamp treasure chests, which inspire kids that visit the library to learn about stamps and the topics on them by checking out books connected with stamp topics.

We walked into the big room off of the lobby and saw all the desks where the sorting and processing of donations happen. The PHF receives philatelic donations almost daily in the mail or by people who drop them off. Volunteers sort through and distribute stamps to the education department for the kids and some of the higher value stamps are put in the sales department for collectors to buy.

Owney the mail dog!

Proceeds from the sale of stamps in our philatelic sales department are used to pay for the running of the facility and the education program. Stamps, postcards, and collectible covers are sold there. People donate to PHF because it is a non-profit that inspires kids to learn with stamps and start a collection, thus growing the hobby of stamp collecting, called philately.

Also, we were allowed to go into a display case and visit Owney the famous Mail Dog in US history. There are special pictures, statues, and covers about Owney in the case. It is near the Old Naco Post office so that when the kids tour the old post office they can say hello to Owney, the stuffed dog, and learn about his history from the 1890s. Many books have been written about Owney and the education program has lessons about him. His books are also in the library, which is our next stop!

Sales department at the PHF

After talking to volunteers and looking at the processing room, we went out the side door to the patio. The PHF also includes a second building which is the Slusser Memorial Library. This is a modern building dedicated to Peggy Slusser, a lady who lived and worked in Tucson. This building contains a basement full of archives, a reading room, and the stacks of books. Behind the doors to the right are over 30,000 books and journals about philatelic history and the US Civil War. This library is used by researchers, collectors, authors, and of course, school children during field trips. On the walls of the library are paintings commissioned for the library about western adventures in postal history and an exhibit case. You can learn more about the library exhibits and paintings on the museum section of their website.

Slusser Memorial Library

Well, our visit has come to an end. We were amazed at all of the stamps, donations, and the children’s program. The Old Naco PO is a little unique gem of postal history and the library is first class. Exploring around the world is fun, and if you can’t physically travel, you can explore the world through stamp collecting. We’re glad the Postal History Foundation is around to help children everywhere do just that!

Goodbye, Postal History Foundation!

Our huge thank you to Lisa Dembowski, PHF’s Director of Education who graciously took the time to show the Little Mail Carriers around. That was a really cool trip, and we can’t wait to see where they’ll go next!

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41 comments so far

ned44440, Ireland
Absolutely wonderful. Would be a fabulous place to visit for sure.
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luky-luke, Germany
Rly nice. Thank U
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Myrake, Belgium
Back in time! I love it!
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alexisl, Canada
This looks like a fantastic visit. Thank you for sharing.
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Jamesmoore86, United States of America
This is a great blog! Time to plan a visit.
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ezredax, United States of America
How fun! What a great place to visit.
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AnnieYang482, China
sooooooo cool!I like it
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saji, Japan
Wonderful! I love the old post office counter.
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Stacy_Harris, United States of America
Thank you so much for this blog! I really enjoyed reading, and learning about this Post Office Museum and Library.☺
What a beautiful Post Office. I didn't know it existed.
Made me smile -- my Grandfather used to be the Postmaster General in Birmingham, Michigan many years ago. I would definitely love to visit Naco to check it out!!
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bigred398, Canada
Looking forward to visiting here, once the boarders are open and we get Togo back to Tucson in the spring of 2022. I collect elephant stamps
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simonEH7, United Kingdom
It looks like really amazing and I really want to have chance be there.
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LauraLynne, United States of America
Thanks for sharing this wonderful story! Now I have something new on my bucket list!
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sallyanne, United States of America
Road trip!!
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Toome2, Netherlands
Hi, what a fun report news.
Great work
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abqgranny, United States of America
Terrific story about a little-known place. I'm going to copy the blog to my teacher relatives so that they can take advantage of the educational programs provided for their students.
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cjf3848, United States of America
Great narrative. I never knew it existed! Will pass along the info.
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Jacque53, United States of America
Wow….I live in Arizona and I didn’t know about this awesome place. I hope to be able to visit there soon!
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Kewl, Philippines
Wow. Great preservation of postal history and doing sometjing about it to cultivate it among the young ones too!!! Kudos!
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sharingpostcards, United States of America
Thank you for this blog. I enjoyed reading about the Post Office that was made from a kit. It reminds me of the days when Sears and Roebucks sold a kit with everything you needed to build a house. I cant wait to visit.
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KyMail, Canada
Wow, what a fun tour! This place looks amazing, I will definitely be checking it out next time I visit Arizona! Thanks so much for sharing!! 😊
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Ceres1849, United Kingdom
Really interesting, I would be there for days ! If I am ever in Arizona I'll visit. Thanks for the article.
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wifetoalineman, United States of America
I am always looking forward to the new post about how these mail carriers adventure.
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R_PostX, United States of America
Thank you for this profile. I have visited the foundation and library twice, and always leave with my heart full. It's a wonderful organization, filled with people who share a common love of philately.
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orange_memo, United States of America
I like this post, looking forward to see this place one day
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Sunshein, United States of America
I live less than 90 minutes away and had no idea it existed. Can't wait until it's open for visitors again.
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NIDUSKA, Finland
thank you
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EstebanSG, Argentina
Loved it !
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Mosshumla, Sweden
Thanks for telling us about this wonderful place!
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betslets, United States of America
I was ready to pack my bags and make a return visit to AZ (where I was growing up in the 1960s as this place was getting its start). Then I read where most departments are still closed for now (except for the post office). However, I've added the PHF to my favorites -- thanks, as always, for continuing to educate me on new people, places, and things.
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Flippie, Canada
Thank you for sharing this story. Soon as we aloud to travel to the US then AZ is on our list to visit and I love this....
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manencov, Romania
It is a wonderful material that must be known by all teachers so that they can take advantage of the educational programs provided for their students.Thank you for sharing this story.
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RexBattleBeas, Australia
I would like to see more post museum visiting blogs.
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Hechizera, United States of America
Cute story! This is on my bucket list!
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D2M2, United States of America
I love this place! Superb vintage items, great photos.
Thank you for this post!
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Demmi, Romania
Worth a visit, but until then is a real pleasure to read about it!
Thank you for sharing!
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quichelady, Japan
I want to visit this place.
Arizona is good.
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wendyquilter, Canada
I've been to Tucson many times but never knew about this...I will be sure to visit next time I'm there!
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tazzini, United States of America
How did I not know about this place?? adding it to our list of 'things to see'
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MissAndrea, Spain
What a wonderful stock of 30,000 books on philately! This is a must see place for those interested in stamps collection
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SweetLeo, China
It's so cute!
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florencen, Australia
love that our little mail carriers can get out and about.....
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