Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

CHRISTMAS SEALS

Morning Star, December 3, 2006, pg. 7

Autographed copies of my latest book “Growing Up in Albion” are available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce or from yours truly. This book would make a great Christmas gift your relative would cherish for years to come. You can also drop by my house to purchase one if you need a copy real quick at the last minute.

Do you remember Christmas Seals? These were “stamps” that were licked and placed on the backs of envelopes at Christmastime each year, usually at the bottom triangular end of the top flap. These were not authorized by the U.S. Post Office. Rather, they were issued from 1917 to 1968 by (first) the Red Cross, and then the National Tuberculosis Association, presently the American Lung Association. I bet, however, that some people might have tried to use them as real stamps on occasion. The Christmas Seals would contain a decorative holiday theme in the center, and were easily identifiable by their red double-barred cross someplace on the stamp. A different stamp was issued each year. Perhaps you have old envelopes from years ago that have Christmas Seals on the back.

Christmas Seals were used to raise money to fight tuberculosis, which once was a major disease, even into the 1950s. Numerous Albionites died of “TB” as it was called in the 20th century, while others spent time in the Battle Creek sanitarium. This disease often afflicted children of immigrants and minorities living on the “west end” of town. A 1953 local article stated, “Tuberculosis kills more Michigan people, steals more productive years from the lives of Michigan people than all other infectious diseases combined.”

The Calhoun County Tuberculosis Association would send out letters containing Christmas Seals to approximately 30,000 residences in the county. People would send back donations, and place the seals on the back of envelopes. The CCTA purchased X-ray equipment and sponsored free chest X-rays in schools and factories to detect TB. Yours truly remembers being X-rayed as a young child at school for the annual “TB” chest X-ray. The CCTB would X-ray approximately 10,000 Calhoun County residents each year.

Various “drives” were often held to raise money for the CCTA, including an annual drive held at Albion College between Thanksgiving and Christmas. In 1952, $500 was raised by students and faculty, which benefited because of the X-rays given to the College community by the CCTA.

From our this week we present a photograph from November, 1953 signaling the start of the Christmas Seals drive at Albion College. Seated in the center is Darrell Pollard, professor of history and political science. He is flanked by two AC students from Detroit (L-R), Mary James, and Joan Warren. On the left is a 1953 Christmas Seal poster showing the stamp. How many of our readers remember Christmas Seals?


1953 Christmas Seals drive, (L-R), Mary James, Darrell Pollard, and Joan Warren

Next: STARR COMMONWEALTH CHRISTMAS STAMPS


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