‘First Lady of Physics’ Receives High Honor

Chien-Shiung Wu Forever Stamp
Chien-Shiung Wu Forever Stamps Now Available Nationwide

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Postal Service recently issued the Chien-Shiung Wu stamp. This new commemorative Forever stamp honors professor Chien-Shiung Wu (1912-1997), one of the most influential nuclear physicists of the 20th century. The stamp was dedicated during a virtual ceremony and is now being sold at Post Office locations nationwide and online at usps.com/wustamp.

“It is a privilege to represent the U.S. Postal Service as we honor the life and achievements of Dr. Chien‑Shiung Wu,” said dedicating official Kristin Seaver, chief retail and delivery officer and executive vice president, U.S. Postal Service. “And, we believe that today, the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, is perfect timing for this dedication.”

Seaver was joined for the ceremony by Vincent Yuan, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and son of the honoree; Jada Yuan, granddaughter of the honoree; and Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University. The ceremony can be viewed on the Postal Service Facebook and Twitter pages.

“I am elated to have my mother honored by USPS on a postage stamp because I believe it goes beyond recognizing her scientific achievements; it also honors the determination and moral qualities that she embodied,” said Vincent Yuan. “It’s even more profound that the recognition comes from America, the country of her naturalization that she loved.”

The stamp art features a detailed portrait of Wu wearing a black-and-white high-collared traditional Chinese gown known as qipao. The illustration was first drawn in graphite, then rendered in egg tempera paint. The background was painted with the pigment lapis lazuli, a highly valued color historically used in artistic depictions of angels, nobility and religious figures.

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The spelling of Wu’s name on the stamp reflects how she wrote her own name and referred to herself. It is also how she was known to the scientific community at large. This Romanized spelling of her name is based on the Wade-Giles system, which is all but obsolete for Chinese words and names. The Pinyin system of phonetic notation for Chinese characters is now the standard in both China and the United States.

Art director Ethel Kessler designed the stamp with original art by Kam Mak.

The Chien-Shiung Wu stamp is being issued as a Forever stamp in panes of 20. These Forever stamps will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail 1-ounce price.

A pictorial postmark of the designated first-day-of-issue city, New York City, is available at usps.com/shopstamps.

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