On October 20, 1946, Mr. Ignatius Sakalas, one of the foremost Lithuanian philatelists in the US, gathered together a group of enthusiastic philatelists in Chicago and formed the Lithuania Philatelic Society (Filatelistų draugija “Lietuva”). Mr. John Green was elected President with Mr. Sakalas as Vice President, Mr. Ben S. Jurėnas as secretary, and Mr. Vincent Petrauskas as treasurer. Other founding members who attended the inaugural meeting included Dr. A. Račkus and Mr. J. Klimas.
The Society’s first newsletter (bulletin), edited by Mr. Jurėnas was published in December 1946. The first issue was a 2-page long, produced by hectograph.
The Society formally adopted its bylaws at the general meeting held on February 13, 1947, stating a mission: to promote Lithuanian philately; assist members in completing their collections of Lithuanian stamps; unite philatelists who desire to study postage stamps and philatelic history of Lithuania.
The first philatelic exhibition organized by the Society opened in April 1947. Sixteen members displayed their collections in 138 frames. By the end of the first year in December 1947, the Society’s membership rose to 33.
The founding of the Lithuania Philatelic Society was a significant event for the entire Lithuanian community. After its 22-year independence, Lithuania remained occupied by the Soviet Union after the Second World War. The most prominent people were either killed or deported to Siberia or fled the occupation to Western Europe. Until the restoration of independence in 1990, the Society was actively focused on preserving the Lithuanian heritage in the face of the atrocities and Sovietization occurring in Lithuania.
The Society expanded its activities significantly after the massive immigration of Lithuanians fleeing Soviet occupation. Among the immigrants were many noted philatelists who became active members of the Society. The Society actively engaged in extending the knowledge of Lithuanian philately in its bulletins and by holding LITHPEX exhibitions and supporting other cultural events that emphasized Lithuania’s history, culture, and traditions. Other activities included issuing cachet and commemorative covers, special cancels, commemorative overprints, and illustrated albums of Lithuanian stamps. The Society maintained close ties with other Lithuanian philatelic organizations in the US and Canada.
After the collapse of the Soviet empire, after 50 years of occupation, Lithuanians recovered their fundamental rights and freedoms. A large number of philatelists from Lithuania joined the Society and, together with other members, celebrated free and independent Lithuania and new Lithuanian postage stamps. The bulletins published by the Society gradually grew from an information publication to a richly illustrated color magazine dedicated to classic and modern Lithuanian philately and postal history.
The internet has brought many welcome changes to our lives and created new opportunities for the Society to reach new audiences. For more than a decade, the Society has had a strong online presence to remain relevant and connected with its members in this digital age. Our website provides a platform to share up-to-date information, publish new studies, connect with readers, showcase virtual stamp galleries, host philatelic forums, and virtual exhibitions, and manage the membership.
Today, the strategic goals of the Lithuania Philatelic Society remain essentially the same: promote Lithuanian history and culture, encourage and support the study of stamps and postal history of Lithuania, and bring together philatelists from around the world with a common interest in Lithuanian philately.
The Lithuania Philatelic Society currently includes 140 active members from 13 countries. Please visit https://lithuanianphilately.com/lps for more information about membership benefits and to join/renew.
While we celebrate the last 75 years, I can’t wait to see what the next 25 years will bring.