Postmaster General Jesse M. Donaldson first announced the issuance of a stamp to honor 'Youth of America' on June 24, 1948. Post Office Department officials expressed genuine surprise at the announcement. They later learned that the request for the stamp was made by Gael Sullivan, a former assistant postmaster general. Sullivan was now the Executive Director of the Theater Owners of America, and, by coincidence, movies mogul Charles P. Skouras was chairman of the National Youth Month Committee. National Youth Month was conceived as part of a broad national campaign to combat delinquency in response to reports from the National Conference on Prevention and Control of Juvenile Delinquency.
Postmaster General Donaldson proclaimed, "The Post Office Department is proud to play a part in the observance of Youth Month. America looks to its youth of today, because the future destiny of this country depends in large measure on the younger generation. Only by continuing to recognize the importance of the men and women of tomorrow can America maintain the strong bulwark of freedom that is today." Critics of the stamp complained that the stamp was nothing more than a billboard poster.
The First Day ceremony was held at the White House and was hosted by President Harry Truman. At the ceremony, Donaldson presented a commemorative folder containing the first sheet of the stamps to Truman. Truman then presented similar commemorative folders containing a pane of fifty of the stamps to three teenagers: Phyllis Tucker, 14, of Maryland, a victim of polio on crutches at the ceremony; Peter Owens of New York City, winner of the Boys Club title of Typical American Boy; and George R. Ware, 16, of Washington, a senior at Dunbar High School and winner of a prize for schoolboy patrolman.
At total of 77,800,500 stamps were printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and sold at post offices for the next eighteen months. There were 548,293 stamps sold the first day of issue, and 347,070 first day covers were processed.