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Stamps honoring female journalists to be released at SPJ National Convention

SPJ News / August 14, 2002

Terrence Harper, SPJ Executive Director, 317/927-8000 ext, 220; tharper@spj.org
Bill McCloskey, SPJ Region 2 Director, 202/463-4129; bmccloskey@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS -- The U.S. Postal Service will issue a set of four 37-cent postage stamps honoring female journalists on Sept. 14 during the national convention of the Society of Professional Journalists.

A special ceremony marking the first day of issue will be held in conjunction with the convention’s Saturday morning Sunshine & First Amendment Awards breakfast, set for 7:30 a.m.

A release from the Postal Service described the stamps:

“This pane of 20 stamps pays tribute to four accomplished women in journalism: Nellie Bly, Ida M. Tarbell, Marguerite Higgins and Ethel L. Payne. For each stamp, artist Fred Otnes created a collage featuring a black-and-white photograph combined with memorabilia such as publication nameplates and story headlines. The four designs are repeated five times each on the stamp pane. Information about the specific elements in each collage is contained in the design briefs of the individual profiles.”

If the Postal Service uses its traditional format those attending the breakfast and ceremony will receive a free souvenir program that includes a copy of the stamps and the special “First Day of Issue” postmark. Additional items can be postmarked with the special cancellation if one or more of the new stamps is purchased and placed on the item.

Any other stamp issued before Sept. 14 can be applied to a cover along with one of the Women Journalists stamps to make a unique collectible. For example, last year the Postal Service issued a stamp honoring James Madison, author of the First Amendment. Journalists Walter Lippman and Ernie Pyle and publisher Adolph Ochs have been honored on postage stamps. Other news-related stamp topics include Newspaperboys in the early '50s, Freedom of the Press in 1958 and Freedom of the Press in 1975.

Collectors often buy specially printed envelopes with a design on the left-hand third of the front called a “cachet,” apply stamps and have a postal clerk apply the special postmark. SPJ is arranging for a supply of these envelopes for sale at the Fort Worth convention.

Other items such as delegate credentials, pocket programs and other memorabilia from the convention can also serve as “First Day Covers” suitable for postmarking.

Interestingly, when the issue was first announced in September 2001 it was slated for issue in Columbus, Ohio, site of the 2000 SPJ convention. That was an initial clue that the SPJ convention was the intended issue site. Later, the city of issue was changed to Fort Worth, confirming what stamp collectors familiar with the SPJ venues suspected.

The USPS set up a special substation at the Columbus convention Info Mart and applied a special commemorative postmark to outgoing mail from SPJ members.

Tickets for the breakfast are part of the convention registration package or can be purchased separately for $25. It is anticipated that members of the public will be admitted to the stamp ceremony for free after breakfast is concluded.

Registration forms for the convention are available at www.spj.org.

Photos of the stamp can be viewed at the Postal Service Web site:

The Society of Professional Journalists works to improve and protect journalism. SPJ is dedicated to encouraging the free practice of journalism and stimulating high standards of ethical behavior. Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, and based in Indianapolis, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press.

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