The Smithsonian National Postal Museum, located near the U.S. Capitol, is devoted to presenting the colorful history of the nation’s mail service. Mail transported our national culture, promoted capitalism, migration, community and identity formation.
It provided a communication link that encouraged the formation of like citizenry long before the birth of the Internet. These images provide a peek into this intriguing history. To learn more, visit the Postal Museum Website.
A postcard image of the Auto Car used to carry a mail clerk who sorts mail while the car is moving. A pair of these cars, manufactured by the Johnson Service Company, were used for city delivery service in Milwaukee, WI.
Letter carrier uses his key to unlock a mail collection box mounted to a telephone pole. A postal distribution box used by mail carriers and clerks to store mail for neighborhood delivery. U.S. Mail truck # 382081 is in the background.
City letter carrier seated in a three-wheeled "mailster" motor vehicle. Carriers used these vehicles to carry the ever-increasing amounts of mail that was being delivered to American households after end of the Second World War.
The mailster worked best in temperate climates or on even terrain. In other areas, they sometimes did not work at all. Northern carriers, immobilized in as little as three inches of snow, also complained of the vehicles' inability to heat properly.
The three-wheel design left mailsters susceptible to tipping over if cornering over 25 miles per hour or if caught in a wind gust. One carrier complained that his mailster was tipped over by a large dog.
Promotional Post Office Department photograph of a woman trying to decide which mailbox to use. During the1960s, the Department was promoting the use of separate mailboxes for local and out of town mail.