About Postal Operations

Featuring Research Volunteer Contributions
Photograph of letter carrier Jeanette Lee gathering mail from a street collection box

Letter carrier Jeanette Lee in Chicago, 1944

Virtual Exhibit

The National Postal Museum would like to thank the research volunteers whose contributions helped to make this project possible.

From small uniform buttons to a massive Highway Post Office bus, objects in the National Postal Museum's collections chart the history and development of the U.S. postal system. The museum's varied collection ranges from the mail delivery system's earliest beginnings to twenty-first century mail processing and delivery. Items both rare and mundane help tell a complex story while providing a physical context for the history of a critical communication system.

As the foundation of written communication, mail links separated families and friends. It spurs business growth and helps find new markets for products. It connects citizens to their local, state, and federal governments. Guided by its mission of universal service, the postal system expands as the nation expands.

Between 1792 and 1828 the General Post Office (as it was then known) was headed by a postmaster general and guided by Congress. In 1829 the postmaster general's position was elevated to presidential cabinet status, and the service became known as the Post Office Department. The service retained that name until the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970, when it became the U.S. Postal Service. The reorganization act removed the postmaster general from the cabinet and eliminated congressional control and funding of the service. The U.S. Postal Service retained its long-standing mandate of universal service, but it is now required to be financially self-sustaining.

Explore the National Postal Museum's extensive collection of postal history artifacts. Discover the complex history of the United States postal service as it testifies to the vital role of mail in our daily lives and reveals that America's history is in the mail.

Nancy A. Pope, National Postal Museum


Airmail poster advertising the ten-cent rate

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Photograph of Railway Post Office clerks at work

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Man in the moon fancy cancel handstamp

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Ford Model-T with snowmobile attachment

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Two-slot postage stamp vending machine

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Cliff Clavin's postal uniform

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Danish mailbox, 1949-1964

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refer to caption Photograph of rural carrier with horse and wagon

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