The Postage Stamp Medium

We can create our own real postage stamps to honor psychologists.

V. Krishna Kumar, PhD

My thanks to Keith Cooke, Publications Manager, Division Services, APA, for including a stamp of Gandhi in my editorial on “Indian Opinion: Gandhi’s First Major Media Voice” in The Amplifier Spring/Summer 2013 issue.  I was delighted that the US honored Gandhi with a stamp as “champion of Liberty” and “Apostle of Non-Violence.”  This inclusion made me realize the value of postage stamps as commemorative media that celebrate cultural practices (e.g., festivals, weddings), historical events (e.g., the Holocaust), flora, fauna, celebrities of all sorts  (e.g., historical, military, entertainment, athletic, science, art, and literature), architectural landmarks (e.g., the Lincoln Memorial), scientific and technological achievements (e.g., the Apollo moon landings), important causes (e.g., wildlife conservation, emancipation), and valued ideals (e.g., love, equality, freedom, patriotism, peace, and pride of accomplishment).

According to the National Postal Museum Website:  “A stamp is much more than physical evidence that postage has been paid.  Stamps can be miniature works of art, treasured keepsakes, and rare collectibles.”  More importantly, each postage-stamp story carries a universal message to celebrate and remind us of goals and ideals valued by the broader society.

Interestingly, PETA sold a limited edition of postage stamps of famous vegetarians to promote vegetarianism.  Glicksman (2010) lamented that “The United States post office continues to feature media personalities and pays little attention to science . . .. Other countries . . . those with significant science contributions honor their scientists more than the United States.”  Glicksman noted that the US claims 297 out of the 596 Nobel winners in medicine, physiology, economics, physics and chemistry, but only 7 have been honored on US postage stamps.  In contrast, other countries have honored 136 American winners.  Honoring prominent individuals from other countries could serve as a good public-relations gesture in this conflicted world.

According to Benjamin (2009), only one psychologist, Lillian Moller Galbraith, was featured on a US postage stamp in 1984 as a result of nomination from the National Society of Professional Engineers.  He observed that the APA’s efforts to honor William James and G. Stanley Hall proved futile. “The 1992 USPS list included wildflowers, hummingbirds, minerals and Christopher Columbus among others, but not James-Hall” (p. 37).

The USPS has dropped the rule that one must be dead for at least 5 years before appearing on a postage stamp.  In fact, now you can create a real postage stamp with your own picture at the USPS website and other authorized websites.  Thus the APA can create a variety of stamps honoring Mary Ainsworth, Ann Anastasi, Albert Bandura, Aaron Beck, Mary Calkins, Florence Denmark, Albert Ellis, G. Stanley Hall, Clark Hull, William James, George Miller, Inez Prosser, Daniel Kahneman, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Virginia Satir, Herbert Simon, B. F. Skinner, Amos Tversky, and others—after all, they sell T-shirts and other APA memorabilia.  The APA members can use these stamps for postage and to popularize our psychology heroes and perhaps such concepts as unconditional positive regard, empathy, and Maslow’s hierarchy.  The APA can publicize each annual convention via a customized postage stamp.  Division 46 can create its own postage stamp with its new logo stating “Join Division 46.”  The division postage stamps can be added as a gift to lottery winners during the social hour along with other psychology memorabilia.  Each division member can mail a few invitations using these stamps to help recruit new members—a relevant use of social networks.  Postage stamps can be a great marketing tool besides honoring prominent scholars.


Benjamin Jr., L. T.  (2009, July-August). Time capsule philately and psychology. Monitor on Psychology, 40 (7), 36-37.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.