Free Postage for "SI Exchange" Packages

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The Smithsonian Institution Archives welcomes personal and educational use of its collections unless otherwise noted. For commercial uses, please contact

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Smithsonian Secretaries Information

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United States Congress passes a provision allowing free mailing privileges for all packages marked "Smithsonian Exchange" that are sent or received by the Smithsonian Institution.


  • International Exchange Service (IES)
  • United States Postal Service
  • United States Congress


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • The 1872 Annual Report notes that a bill had passed the House abolishing the franking priviledge, and if it passed the Senate the Institution would again have to pay postage. This bill became law and is noted in a footnote in the Annual Report.
  • Goode, George Brown, ed. The Smithsonian Institution, 1846-1896, The History of Its First Half Century. Washington, D.C.: De Vinne Press, 1897., p. 414, 838
  • Rhees, William Jones. The Smithsonian Institution: Documents Relative to Its Origin and History: 1835-1899, Vol. 1, 1835-1887. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1901., p. 699
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1872, p. 82

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


June 8, 1872


  • Law
  • Finance
  • Franking privilege
  • Exchanges, Literary and scientific
  • Legislation

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