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First Day Cover postmark letter from Post Office Department in Washington DC

In 1942, in the midst of World War II which lasted from 1939-1945, the small coal mining town of Hollywood, West Virginia in Raleigh County changed its name to MacArthur in honor of General Douglas MacArthur, the defender of Corregidor. This rural, unincorporated area created quite a stir in the philatelic (stamp collecting) world with its new U.S. Post Office, which opened for business on April 15, 1942.

The name change was the result of 75 citizens living in Hollywood initiating a petition calling for the name change “as an expression of their admiration and respect for General Douglas MacArthur and as being both timely and fitting”. Their cause was taken up by Congressman Joe L. Smith of Beckley and accepted by the U.S. Post Office, as a Hollywood, West Virginia Post Office already existed in Monroe County.

It was rumored that President Roosevelt, a dedicated philatelist (stamp collector), had requested the first cancellation. When word reached the philatelic community, over 50,000 requests for the special First Day of Service postmark were received by this town of 800 residents. Many of the requests came from stamp dealers and cachet makers who produced special covers for the occasion.

The Post Office Department in Washington D.C. responded by dispatching a special official, called a “mechanician”, along with special equipment to assist in processing the unusual volume of mail. It is thought that the processing began as early as the 13th, but all mail bore a cancellation date of April 15.

With this incredible volume of mail stretching the resources of this rural community, one wonders how the postmistress, Mrs. Lausie A. Shrewsbury, a former school teacher, was able to personally sign many of the covers. But shown below are covers as evidence that she, in fact, did so.

First Day Cover postmark letter MacArthur West Virginia April 15 1942

First Day Cover postmark on 4 letters MacArthur West Virginia April 15 1942