Chautauqua Institution 

U.S. #1505 was issued in Chautauqua, New York.

On August 6, 1974, the USPS issued the Chautauqua Institution stamp, the second in the Rural America series, honoring the organization’s centennial.

Reverend John H. Vincent and Lewis Miller of Akron, Ohio, created the Chautauqua Institution in the summer of 1874. Their initial goal was to train Protestant Sunday school teachers in an enjoyable setting.

U.S. #1505 FDC – Chautauqua silk cachet first Day Cover.

The first meeting of the institution took place between August 4 and August 18, 1874, on the shores of western New York’s Lake Chautauqua. At the time, it was called the Chautauqua Lake Sunday School Assembly program.

U.S. #4545 from the Literary Arts series.

Over time, these assemblies drew the attention of many other people and were eventually opened to the general public. The programs also expanded to include lectures, discussions, and home readings as well as language courses in Hebrew, Greek, French, and German. This summer-school program quickly moved from its original religious orientation to include music, art, and secular education, and offering credit and non-credit courses for adults.

U.S. #2195 from the Great Americans series.

These events also began to draw big names, such as Mark Twain and William Jennings Bryan, who delivered lectures during the eight-week sessions. And every president from Ulysses S. Grant to William McKinley would eventually visit the institute during their tenure.

Soon, the Chautauqua movement spread across the country, with local reading groups forming to discuss current issues. The institute also offered a correspondence course as well as a publishing house and theological school. By the early 1900s, “Chautauqua” became a term for commercial traveling companies who pitched tents and presented lecturers, orators, and performing artists to rural areas.

Over time, these traveling Chautauquas waned in popularity as movies and television became popular forms of entertainment. But the original Chautauqua Institution is still open and offering programs today.

U.S. #2724 – In The Trouble with Girls, Elvis played a Chautauqua manager.

In 1974, the USPS issued a commemorative stamp honoring the centennial of the Chautauqua Institute as part of its Rural America series. The stamp pictures a Chautauqua tent with horses and carriages out front. Stamp designer John Falter had seen a Chautauqua tent in his hometown of Falls City, Nebraska, as a child, and pictured part of the town and its water tower in the stamp’s background.

Click here to visit the Chautauqua Institute’s website for more.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

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  1. There was a Chautauque* Lake Local Post, which operated back in the 1970s and 80s, and produced some very nice souvenir sheets and covers which I collected at the time. For some reason they stopped producing after about 10 years, even though I was ready to purchase more of their philatelic products and wrote them about it. They just said they were done, and disappeared. I just thought they were worthy of mention here. (*Notice slight difference in spelling.)

  2. Hiroshima was indeed an important event, which occurred on this date. However, this page is about STAMPS relevant to each day’s date (i.e., August 6th, etc.). I don’t believe there is a US Stamp which in any way commemorates, celebrates, or memorializes the Atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

  3. Many of us in Chautauqua were quite disappointed that the stamp honored the long-defunct tent movement inspired by Chautauqua, rather than the Chautauqua Institution itself, which has operated continuously since 1874 and is alive and well today. There were plenty of Chautauqua landmarks which could have been used to commemorate the living institution instead.

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