Stamping an Identity on America: The Beginning of the United States Post Office

George Washington convinced Congress to support a sweeping expansion of postal routes with greater scope and reliability. Introduction Research for my recent book on the postal inspector Anthony Comstock introduced me to the prominent role the Postal Service played in enabling Americans to conceive of themselves as a singular nation. Sending a letter from Virginia[…]

Systems at Work: A History of the Post Office in Pictures since 1808

In 1800, postal officials began using selected post offices as distribution centers. 1808 Overview When we reflect that the objects effected by the transportation of the mail are among the choicest comforts and enjoyments of social life, it is pleasing to observe that the dissemination of them to every corner of our country has outstripped[…]

The History of the United States Post Office since 1792

The Postal Service Act, signed by President George Washington on February 20, 1792, established the Post Office Department. Introduction The United States Post Office Department (USPOD; also known as the Post Office or U.S. Mail) was the predecessor of the United States Postal Service, in the form of a Cabinet department, officially from 1872 to[…]

A Brief History of Children Being Sent through the Mail

In the early days of the parcel post, some parents took advantage of the mail in unexpected ways. One of the most overlooked, yet most significant innovations of the early 20th century might be the Post Office’s decision to start shipping large parcels and packages through the mail. While private delivery companies flourished during the[…]

How the Post Office and Postal Products Shaped Mid-Nineteenth-Century Letter-Writing

In an age of electronic communication it is easy to forget the vital role that letter-writing played in people’s everyday lives in the nineteenth century. By Susan Donovan Abstract In an age of electronic communication it is easy to forget the vital role that letter-writing played in people’s everyday lives in the nineteenth century. Critical[…]