The Smithsonian Institution is opening an exhibit at the National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., on March 22, 2012, to honor the anniversaries of the Hindenburg and the Titanic. The Fire and Ice exhibit runs through January 6, 2014. I have plenty of time to visit before the exhibit closes. Airships have been an interest of mine for quite awhile, and three years ago I presented a paper on World War I German airships at the Mid-Atlantic Regional meeting of Phi Alpha Theta.
So, why are an airship and a steamer being honored at the postal museum? Simple: because both the Hindenburg and the Titanic served as mail carriers. According to the Smithsonian’s website, the Hindenburg was the largest flying post office ever built. The airship carried more than 17,000 pieces of transatlantic mail and a few hundred pieces managed to survive the fire when the ship exploded, but mail aboard the Titanic went down with the ship.
If you want to know more about the Hindenburg or Titanic, the Smithsonian’s website has a bibliography for each one that offers websites, films, and publications about these two giants.