06 November 2014

Stamps could be an invaluable resource for your genealogy research

Stamps ... such memories!  I was reminded of them when Thomas MacEntee (on Facebook) posted a link to From the office: Stamp collecting and family history.

Back in the day I used to collect stamps.  Though my stamp collection has long been donated to a philatelic society, I still love to look at stamps.  I found them such a fascinating glimpse into the countries around the world.  How detailed and intricate some were, how pretty others were, and how some honored historical figures while others honored the head of state.  And, deciphering the language and correlating how a country called itself on a stamp to what it was in English took me around the world many times.  I also remember that as new countries were created or countries assumed a new identity, my knowledge of the world was updated, through my stamp collection.  For years, even decades, I would snag any “new-to-me” stamp that showed up on an envelope to our house and I would also purchase inexpensive collections to expand my horizons (literally and figuratively). 

As stated in this article ...

Unfortunately the collection turned out to be far less valuable than we supposed. Our stamp dealer scorned our page of penny reds and even our penny black was considered of little value due to it not being in mint condition. Our stamps from all over the world were clearly the wrong stamps from the wrong countries.

My collection also was never valuable in terms of money and yet it provided such a great education.

This jaunt down memory lane also reminded me to remember that stamps, post office, post marks, handwriting, addresses, and much more as connected to a simple piece of mail can tell you a lot about the parties involved!

As the author concludes ...

Perhaps philatelists and family historians have more in common than I had thought!

We are both collectors of history!  And, stamps and the envelopes they are affixed to, often contain correspondence or documents that are invaluable to our genealogy research.

Are there other hobbies which also relate to our ancestral research?

Editor’s Note: This Upfront with NGS post, The Death Of Family Heirloom -- Is it Exaggerated?, shows one of the few envelopes with a stamp, acquired from a family member, after I donated my stamp collection.  So, I still have this one.

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