The US Postal Service in American History

Public invited to guest lecture on the US Postal Service in HIST 389: The History of the Election of 2020

Monday, November 16, 2020 3:00 PM to 4:15 PM
Online Location,

A stamp commemorating the 1965 Voting Rights Act suggests the intersections between mail, voting, and American democracy.

The election of 2020 was delivered--quite literally--by the United States Postal Service, which carried millions of ballots to and from voters who desired to avoid the polls due to the pandemic. USPS facilitated the growth and stability of American democracy, not to mention the development of the US economy, long before this year's unprecedented mail-in vote. Yet, this essential service is as poorly understood as it is taken for granted. What role has the USPS played in making America, and where would we be without it?

Lynn Heidelbaugh is an historian of the US Postal Service and curator at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum in Washington, DC. Ms. Heidelbaugh specializes in collections and research on the history of the U.S. Postal Service, military mail, letters and letter writing culture, as well as business and tourism history. She has served as lead curator for temporary and long-term exhibitions, including “My Fellow Soldiers: Letters from World War I” (April 2017–November 2018), “Behind the Badge: The U.S. Postal Inspection Service” (June 2014–indefinite), and “War Letters: Lost and Found” (November 2005–November 2006), among others.

HIST 389: The History of the Election of 2020, taught by Prof. Meredith Lair, examines the historical contexts and antecedents of major issues in the presidential election. Students have recently examined the design and function of the American electoral process, the history of American suffrage, the African American Freedom Struggle, the history of policing, civil military relations, the #MeToo Movement, the history of global pandemics, and American media history.

You're Invited! The public is invited to join Prof. Lair's students for Ms. Heidelbaugh's talk via Zoom at the link or call-in number below.

HIST 389: The History of the Election of 2020: "The US Postal Service in American History

Monday, November 16, 3:00-4:15 PM EST

Join Zoom Meeting: 

  • Online:
  • Dial in phone number: 301-715-8592
  • Meeting ID: 912 1384 3117