Stamp Your Passport at Minute Man

Two girls in summer hats stand at a table and stamp their passport.

For many visitors, a trip to Minute Man National Historical Park is not complete without a souvenir. Perhaps it’s a photo taken at the North Bridge, a book on the events of April 19, 1775, or a special keepsake from the park store. By far, the most popular collectibles with countless visitors – and at no cost – are the park’s cancellation stamps, part of the National Park Service’s Passport Stamp Program. 

The Passport Stamp Program has proven wildly successful since it began in 1986, an essential of any park visit. The first words regularly heard by rangers and volunteers when someone enters the visitor centers are, “Where are the passport stamps?” 

Passport Stamp Program cancellations are similar to stamps that go into a regular passport and provide a dated record of national parks visited. That can be one of several designs at Minute Man, depending on the location.

At the Minute Man Visitor Center there is a Minute Man stamp honoring the elite citizen-soldiers who are the park’s namesakes, and a Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area stamp commemorating a wider geographic region beyond the park. At the North Bridge Visitor Center, stamps commemorate the bridge itself and the Underground Railroad, the network of safe places utilized by enslaved African Americans as an escape route to free states and Canada.  Minute Man’s connection to the Underground Railroad is The Wayside, Home of Authors, a historic house that sheltered enslaved African Americans as well as abolitionists and those fugitives they sought to help.

Most visitors enjoy collecting Passport Stamp Program cancellations as mementos and are creative about how they keep and store them. Many stamp small squares of paper that are carefully put away until they return home, where they enhance a photo album or scrapbook. Others stamp their park brochures, collectibles in their own right and replete with illustrations, background information, and even a park map inside! Some opt to purchase a cancellation book, Passport To Your National Parks, neatly organized by park regions (Minute Man is in the North Atlantic).

Since most national parks participate in the Passport Stamp Program – 16 of them in Massachusetts – there are plenty of places to visit and take advantage of stamp cancellations beyond Minute Man. Just a word of caution: plan ahead. Arriving in the park after hours or in the off-season can lead to disappointment. If obtaining your Passport Stamp Program cancellation is a priority, check ahead and drop by a visitor center during operating hours. A passport cancellation stamp is a fitting reminder of your visit to Minute Man National Historical Park!

Image above: Local visitors collecting their Passport Stamps at the North Bridge Visitor Center. They are spending the summer visiting different parks to collect their stamps!

Written by Neil Lynch, park volunteer, former National Park Service ranger, and avid Passport Stamp Program collector. Neil Lynch has collected passport stamp cancellations with his three children and seven grandchildren. He writes from Hampstead, New Hampshire.

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