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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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CANCELS. Cancels were distinctive markings used on letters to designate the place of mailing. The first use of cancels in Dubuque began on June 28, 1834, during the time the unorganized Iowa area was under the jurisdiction of the Territory of Michigan. "Dubuque, Mic.T." (Michigan Territory) cancels were used into the beginning years of the Wisconsin Territory era (July 4, 1836 to July 3, 1838).

Dubuque's postal history during the Wisconsin Territory saw the use of cancels reading either "Dubuque, W.T." (Wisconsin Territory) or "Dubuque, Mic.T."

Iowa achieved territorial status on July 4, 1838. For two years cancels read "Dubuque, I.T. (Iowa Territory). This handstamp, seldom used, is quite rare.

Between 1840 and statehood in 1846, circular black, red, brown or orange cancels typically read "DUBUQUE, Iowa." In those days, Dubuque County ran to the Canadian border.

Following statehood, many varieties of cancels were used on Dubuque letters. Some cancels included the rates, then either three or five cents.