APRL receives gift of postal history research

Thomas J. Alexander has donated his postal history research archive and library to the American Philatelic Research Library.

Tara Murray, Director of Information Services/Librarian, looks at the donation.

The donation includes Alexander’s entire philatelic library, consisting of many hundreds of books, along with copious notes, clippings, and research files. The materials reflect his broad range of interests, including but not limited to the early United States postal issues, steamboat mail, western forts, and the postal history of Kansas and Missouri. Also included are many photocopies of collections and exhibits, both his own and those of other now-departed postal historians. Over the coming months, the assemblage of materials will be inventoried in detail, cataloged, and stored for use by philatelic scholars.

“Mr. Alexander is a highly regarded scholar,” said librarian Tara Murray. “I am delighted that he has the foresight and generosity to preserve his research material and make it available to future generations of philatelists and postal historians through the American Philatelic Research Library.”

The gift was facilitated by the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society Inc., of which Mr. Alexander was President in 1981-1984. The USPCS provided a grant to cover shipping the 326 bankers boxes to Bellefonte, and the hiring of a library intern to process the collection and create a finding aid.

The skids were taken to Sundman Hall where the 326 boxes were unloaded.

“Our Board of Directors had recognized that the Classics Society has a responsibility to preserve research materials from the classic period of U.S. philately,” said John Barwis, current USPCS President. “So we were very pleased to have the opportunity to help make Tom Alexander’s lifetime of philatelic work available to future students. We will serve Tara Murray and her staff in an advisory capacity as they evaluate and store Tom’s wonderful donation.”

This project was made possible by a grant to the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society from the David T. Beals III Charitable Trust, Bank of America, trustee. “David Beals preceded Tom Alexander as president of the USPCS, and made important contributions to American postal history,” said Barwis. “We are pleased to honor both David Beals and Tom Alexander by helping to preserve their work.”

The American Philatelic Research Library has one of the world’s largest and most accessible collections of philatelic literature. It also holds several unique archives, including the Daniel Hines Air Mail Collection. The APRL is a public nonprofit that relies heavily on donations of materials. Members of the APRL and the American Philatelic Society may borrow materials directly through the mail and others may access the collections through interlibrary loan. The APRL is open to the public and scholars are always welcome to do research on site. For more information, visit the APRL on the web or call 814-933-3803 and select option 3 for the library.

The U.S. Philatelic Classics Society is not-for-profit association of people interested in the pre-1894 stamps and postal history of the United States. The goal of the USPCS is to promote interest and knowledge of philately through the encouragement of philatelic research, and through exchange of information among our members as well with other philatelic organizations. The UPSCS does this by preparing and distributing philatelic literature and periodicals, particularly The Chronicle of the U.S. Classic Postal Issues and the Chairman’s Chatter. The USPCS is operated entirely by volunteers, and welcomes anyone interested in the classic era of American philately. Visit the USPCS on the web at www.uspcs.org.

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