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Seamen's Church Institute of New York & New Jersey First Day Covers Collection

Identifier: SCI-1941-001

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of general correspondence between FDC collectors and SCI staff. Topics include FDC substitutions, refunds, open orders, closed orders, and general inquires. There are also financial records, press releases, and newspaper clippings for each ship a first day cover had been issued. Of particular interest are folders containing the correspondence of Robert Bolton who designed the first day covers, and correspondence from Captain Herbert F. Rommel from the 1990s.


  • 1941-1996
  • Majority of material found within 1941 - 1947


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Staff may restrict access at its discretion on the basis of physical condition.

Biographical / Historical

The Seamen's Church of New York and New Jersey (SCI) FIrst Day Covers (FDC) program began in the early 1940s and was discontinued in 1947. Each issued FDC had been in commemoration of an ocean liner's maiden voyage into open seas. The FDC envelope included a stamp, issued, post-marked, and canceled on the day of its release. Also on the envelope would be a copy of a hand-drawn image, known as a cachet, to heighten the collectivity of the item. The first day covers were offered to SCI contributors and donors, as well as stamp enthusiasts, and issued on a frequent basis throughout each year. The profits made in return helped fund SCI and its ongoing mission to seafarers.

When the United States entered the Second World War on December 8th, 1941, shipments of the first day covers suffered massive delays and cancelations due to surprise attacks from German ships on the American merchant ships which were being used for transporting the items.


2.5 Linear Feet (5 boxes)


At the beginning of the 1940s Seamen's Church Institute introduced their ongoing series of first day covers, which were available to collectors and donors. A first day cover is a stamp adhered to an envelope which has been issued, post-marked, and canceled on the day of its initial release. The envelope will sometimes have a hand-drawn image on it of which its subject matter would be the same as on the stamp. These drawings were used to enhance the collectibility of the first day cover.


The First Day Covers Collection is six series; series one having three subseries and series three having two subseries.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by SCI Special Collections Intern Dan Brenner during the fall 2013 semester under the supervision of Jonathan Thayer, SCI Archivist. Machine readable finding aid created by Dan Brenner during the spring 2014 semester.

Seamen's Church Institute of New York & New Jersey First Day Covers Collection
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Repository Details

Part of the Queens College (New York, N.Y.) Special Collections and Archives Repository

Queens College Library, CUNY
Benjamin Rosenthal Library RO317
65-30 Kissena Boulevard
Flushing 11367 USA us