National Postal Museum receives three volumes of used covers

The National Postal Museum recently accepted a donation of three volumes of postally used covers collected by the late Dr. George S. Brooks, of Winchester, Ky.

Brooks formed the collection in honour of his son, George S. Brooks, Jr., who was lost at sea aboard the submarine USS Pompano off the coast of Japan during the Second World War.

“Besides adding considerable depth to our military mail collections, the Brooks family’s gift will make it possible for the National Postal Museum to share their grandfather’s passion for collecting with others,” said Daniel Piazza, chief curator of philately.

A cover addressed by Dr. George S. Brooks to his son was postmarked about three weeks after George Jr.’s submarine failed to return to Midway Island as scheduled.


Pompano left Midway Island on patrol on Aug. 20, 1943 and never returned; its exact fate has never been conclusively determined. The elder Brooks channeled pride and grief for his son into collecting military mail that chronicled the hardships and sacrifices of wartime, especially the difficulties faced by military personnel and civilians in communicating from forward areas, secret locations and prisoner-of-war camps. Some of the last envelopes exchanged by Lieutenant Brooks and his parents—one marked simply “missing”—are an especially poignant part of the collection.

The donation was made by George S. Brooks II, accompanied by his wife, Kathy, and other members of his family. Brooks is the grandson of Dr. Brooks and the nephew of Lieutenant Brooks.

The Confederate States established a post office department separate from the U.S. on June 1, 1861, but did not immediately issue new stamps. In the interim, the postmaster at Mobile, Alabama issued his own stamps that were in use for less than six months.

The National Postal Museum is devoted to presenting the colourful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of stamps and philatelic material in the world. It is located at 2 Massachusetts Avenue N.E. in Washington, D.C., across from Union Station. The museum is open daily (except on Dec. 25) from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

For more information about the Smithsonian, please call 202-633-1000 or visit

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