Featuring Research Volunteer Contributions


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Eisenhower-type jacket, c. 1956-1965

Since their jobs put them on public view, the letter carriers’ and clerks’ uniforms help identify them as public servants, making them part of one of the most recognized professions. Even the earliest postal uniforms carried colors, emblems, cut, and fabric that helped postal workers stand apart from other uniformed individuals. The postal uniform continues to impart the wearer with a sense of duty and gives clear signals to those around them. While walking urban streets and entering private property to deliver mail, letter carriers’ attire reflects authority and trust. The uniform declares each carrier to be a known entity, backed by a reputable institution, working in the performance of a public service.

Postmasters began to require that their city carriers wear uniforms in 1868. In contrast, rural carriers have never faced that requirement, and most behind-the-scenes employees in the postal service have never donned special uniforms for their jobs. Whether postal employees wear full uniforms or not, many services have issued badges to designate their workers. Outfitting the largest civilian workforce has generated lucrative opportunities for the manufacturers and suppliers who win postal contracts.

Lynn Heidelbaugh, National Postal Museum