Happy Birthday Frank Laubach 

U.S. #1864 was issued on Laubach’s 100th birthday.

Missionary Frank Charles Laubach was born on September 2, 1884, in Benton, Pennsylvania.

Laubach attended Princeton University and Union Theological Seminary before earning a PhD from Columbia University in 1915. That same year, he and his wife traveled to the Philippines to serve as Congregational missionaries with the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.

While working in the Philippines, Laubach was troubled by the poverty, injustice, and illiteracy he saw, which he believed were barriers to peace.   In particular, Laubach was most concerned with illiteracy and made it his life’s work to help people learn to read. In 1930 he developed an alphabet for the Maranaw people of Mindanao, Philippines. He would then spend the next 40 years visiting more than 100 countries creating literacy primers (books) for 312 languages. During this time he worked with different missions, private agencies, governments, USAID, the Peace Corps, and UNESCO.

U.S. #1864 FDC – Laubach Silk Cachet First Day Cover.

One of Laubach’s most significant contributions was his “Each One Teach One” program. While he didn’t invent the phrase (it dates back to before the Civil War), he used it to encourage every adult that learned the language to then volunteer their time to teach others. Over the years, this program has helped about 60 million people learn to read in their native language.

During his career, Laubach created the World Literacy Committee and helped found the Committee on World Literacy and Christian Literature of the National Council of Churches. He also founded World Literacy, Inc. and Laubach Literacy, Inc. Laubach is often considered to be the founder of the worldwide literacy movement. He spent his later years traveling the world speaking about illiteracy and its connection to poverty and world peace. He died on June 11, 1970.

Item #M84-38 – Laubach First Day Maximum Card.

The Frank Laubach stamp issued in 1984 as part of the Great Americans series is the only U.S. stamp honoring a missionary.

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  1. We tend to think that literacy is the ability to read, and in developed countries to include the ability to write and use arithmetic. That is certainly a major need for living in our modern world. Frank Laubach concentrated on reading as the necessary first step. I remember hearing of him as I was growing up. But the modern meaning of literacy has been expanded to include the ability to use language, numbers, images, and computers – to be able to communicate and gain useful knowledge as our school teachers know so well and as parents discover as they try to help their children with homework. But even basic illiteracy is very high in many parts of the world, especially in Africa and India and surrounding countries. Thanks for reminding us of the pioneering work of Frank Laubach

    1. Illiterate people are all over, not just the countries that you mentioned. I was really surprised when I learnt that many adults in US are illiterate. They cant even read road signs or bill boards. They just carry on their life with habits of usual things. Some people I met in this country who never rode an air plane. Some adults didn’t travel more there 50 miles from the place they are living. Hard to believe until you meet one. This world is full of wide varieties of people. Super intelligent to illiterate.

  2. Thank you again for giving us a History Lesson, I don’t remember him but, I am always willing
    to read,learn and know about people I didn’t remember at all. Thank you again. If more people
    read your articles on these people, it is better than sitting in a classroom. I have learned more
    here than in some of the history classes in school thanks again

  3. “…the only U.S. stamp honoring a missionary.”

    Indeed, and how very sad. Forget about putting Jesus on our stamps. We put some famously worthless people on them for no better reason than that they are famous. Stamps represent culture and society, aspiration and what is worth remembering. Missionaries, who may well offer their lives for the good of others, are perhaps to dangerous to put on our stamps. They may make someone somewhere uncomfortable in their political incorrectness. Elvis Presley and Disney, the most popular stamps ever printed, are safer even if emptier in the vision they offer of our culture than the Frank Laubach stamp.

  4. As collectors we see and get to know these various stamp groups, like the Great American series. But very often we don’t know the story behind the stamp. Kudo’s to Mystic for this doing these “This Day In History” stories to provide the background.

  5. I salute Frank Laubach. I am a retired elementary teacher, fortunate enough to teach in the USA. To teach and have “each on teach one” is really wonderful.

  6. I have some envelopes you buy at the post office when postage to mail a letter was 5 cents and president Lincoln’s picture was on the 5 cent stamp.Lincoln’s picture was stamped over the president’s picture, I think was Hamilton, on the 4 cent envelope. This happened in the early 1960’s when when postage to mail a letter went from 4 cents to 5 cents and you paid 1 cent for the envelope. I honestly think I am the only person who has any.

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