The Challenge of Mail Sorting

Railway Post Office clerks used cubbies to sort mail on board moving trains. Many of these mail slots were labeled with names of towns.

It might seem silly that the towns were not listed in alphabetical order, but the clerks saved time by keeping them in geographic order. This way they matched the path as the train followed the tracks.

Another challenge for the clerks was reading the handwritten addresses. Individual handwriting was often difficult to read, especially when there was little time, little light and constant swaying from the motion of the train.

A clerk was required to sort 600 pieces of mail in an hour with 97% accuracy in order to keep his job.

A Railway Post Office clerk sorts the mail into pigeonholes that are categorized by cities and towns along the route.