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Publication 119 - Sources of Historical Information *
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Introduction, By Chronology, By Subject, Alphabetically, Locations of Records, Additional_Resources, Further Reading, Note

Publication 119 - Sources of Historical Information

on Post Offices, Postal Employees, Mail Routes, and Mail Contractors

October 2006
PSN 7610-05-000-4418
(amended ..)

Introduction

The Postal Service shall have as its basic function the obligation to provide postal services to bind the Nation together through the personal, educational, literary, and business correspondence of the people. It shall provide prompt, reliable, and efficient services to patrons in all areas and shall render postal services to all communities.

-- Title 39, United States Code, Section 101

The history of the United States Postal Service® is one of transformation -- from the first use of railroads to carry the mail in the 1830s, to online stamp sales in 1997, to new developments in the 21st century. Within the history of the Postal Service lies the history of the nation as a whole, as mail routes and Post Offices™ spread westward, keeping the growing nation connected.

Historians, postmasters, genealogists, and others who want to learn more about the history of their communities will discover valuable sources of historical information on Post Offices, postal employees, mail routes, and mail contractors in this publication. Sources are listed chronologically and then discussed by subject. Following that, they are described in alphabetical order. The final pages list addresses for these resources and provide further references.

One interesting statement on the 'Patronage Appointments of Postmasters' is found at Postmaster Finder's Research Information page:

"From 1775 until the early 1800s, Postmasters in the United States were appointed by the Postmaster General. In 1836, however, an Act of Congress provided that at all Post Offices where the annual compensation of the Postmaster exceeded one thousand dollars, the Postmaster would be appointed by the President, "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate." When Post Offices were divided into classes in 1864, Postmasters of the first, second and third classes were appointed by the President, while the Postmaster General continued to appoint Postmasters of the smaller Post Offices.

"Following these procedures for Presidential appointment, selections for Postmasters were made by Congressmen under a complicated "advisor" system, requiring a would-be Postmaster to gain the support of his Representative or Senator, then Presidential nomination to the Senate, and finally Senate confirmation.

"Patronage in Post Office Department appointments was gradually loosened by the Pendleton Act of 1883 and the Ramspeck-O'Mahoney Act of 1938, and Teddy Roosevelt's presidency marked an end to the mass employee purges of the 19th century. The positions of Postmaster (and, later, rural carrier) remained essentially political, however, until February 5, 1969, when President Richard Nixon and Postmaster General Winton M. Blount jointly announced an end to political appointments in the Post Office Department. Future appointments, the President declared, would be made "on a merit basis without the usual political clearance."

"On February 25, 1969, the President asked Congress for enabling legislation to remove the statutory requirement for Presidential approval and Senatorial confirmation of Postmasters, to provide for appointment of all Postmasters by the Postmaster General, and "to prohibit political considerations in the selection or promotion of postal employees."

"The Senate passed a bill embodying these recommendations on July 8, 1969. In the meantime the issue of patronage became merged with the more comprehensive movement for postal reform embodied in the proposed Postal Reform Act submitted to Congress in June 1969. It was not until August 1970, with the signing of the Postal Reorganization Act, that patronage in the Post Office was legally ended by a bill that explicitly prohibited "political recommendations" in the personnel affairs of the Post Office. On November 29, 1970, the first group of Postmasters appointed on merit alone under the Postal Reorganization Act took office."

Editors Note: On July 1, 1971 the USPO (US Post Office) became the USPS (US Postal Service).

Sources by Chronology

(See Also: Sources by Subject)

1700s- Newspapers and city directories

1773-1774 Hugh Finlay's journal

1775-1778 Benjamin Franklin's ledger

1782-1799 Ledgers of the General Post Office

1789-1818 Record of First Returns Received from Postmasters

1789-1952 Letters Sent by the Postmaster General

1789- Annual Report of the Postmaster General

1789- Congressional Serial Set

1789- Federal Statutes

1790-1930 Census records

1803- Lists, tables, and directories of Post Offices

1814-1960 Contract route registers

1814-1971 Record of Appointment of Postmasters

1816-1911 Official Register of the United States

1830s-1940s Post route maps

1835-1953 Orders of the Postmaster General ("Journals")

1837-1950 Site location reports of Post Offices

1861-1865 Confederate Post Office Department records

1863-ca. 1900 Record Cards of Letter Carriers Separated from the Postal Service

1874-1954 United States Official Postal Guide

1880- Postal Bulletin (Daily Bulletin of ... prior to 1919)

1890s-1986 Record cards of postmaster appointments

1896-1970s Rural route cards

1901-1934 Rural free delivery records

ca. 1910- Personnel records

1986- Postmaster Finder Top

Page 2.

Sources by Subject

Post Offices and Employees

For information on Post Offices and postmasters before 1814, major sources include:

  • Record of First Returns Received from Postmasters
  • Letters Sent by the Postmaster General.
  • Hugh Finlay's journal, a survey of post roads.
  • Benjamin Franklin's ledger.
  • Newspapers.
  • For information after 1814, the primary source is the Record of Appointment of Postmasters.

    For concise listings of Post Offices by state and alphabetically, sources include the lists, tables, and directories of Post Offices, as well as the United States Official Postal Guide and Official Register of the United States.

    For postmaster salary information and lists of other Post Office employees, refer to the Official Register of the United States.

    Personnel records may be available for employees whose service ended after about 1910.

    Site location reports of Post Offices provide geographic and other information on specific Post Offices.

    Mail Routes and Contractors

    For information on mail contracts and contractors before 1814, sources include:

  • Letters Sent by the Postmaster General.
  • Hugh Finlay's journal.
  • Newspapers.

    Contract route registers are available beginning in 1814.

    Names and salaries of contractors are listed in the biennial Official Register of the United States.

    Rural route cards provide rural route establishment dates, as well as the names, dates of service, and salaries of rural carriers.

    The historian of the United States Postal Service has compiled tables showing first rural routes established, by Post Office, through 1904, from issues of the Postal Bulletin and the 1901 Annual Report.

    Names and salaries of rural and city carriers are listed in the biennial Official Register of the United States.

    Dates of service of city carriers whose service ended before about 1900 are available in Record Cards of Letter Carriers Separated from the Postal Service, 1863-1899.

    Personnel records may be available for rural and city carriers whose service ended after about 1910. Top

    Sources Alphabetically

    Annual Report of the Postmaster General,1789-

    Early editions of the Annual Report (title varies slightly) offer only brief summaries of a few pages each on mail service nationwide, but by the 1840s the report begins to include statistical tables on everything from missent mail (by state) to international money orders issued (by state). Although the subjects of the statistical tables vary year by year, the following remain fairly constant (year of first appearance given in parentheses):

  • The lengths of mail routes and modes of conveyance, by state (1836).
  • Railroad and steamboat contracts (1843 and 1845, respectively).
  • The number of Post Offices by state (1847).
  • Receipts/expenses by state (1851).
  • Statistics on city delivery (1873).
  • Establishment dates of rural free delivery, by Post Office (1897-1901).

    More detailed financial statistics are often available on the largest U.S. Post Offices -- for example, receipts, expenses, and money allowed for clerk hire and rent, light, and fuel. The 1970 Annual Report has a statistical overview of the history of the Post Office Department from 1789 to 1970, such as number of Post Offices and revenue. In 1971, the report reverts to a limited format, with statistics available for the most part on only a national basis.

    Selected editions of the Annual Report may be available from your local library through inter-library loan. Housed at the USPS Corporate Library

    Benjamin Franklin's Ledger, 1775-1778

    Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first Postmaster General™ under the Continental Congress on July 26, 1775. He and his successor, Richard Bache, kept a ledger of the quarterly accounts of the General Post Office from 1775 to 1778. This ledger includes sums paid to and received from Post Offices -- serving as a useful list of early Post Offices -- with postmaster names sometimes noted.

    A facsimile of the original ledger was reproduced in 1976 as The Ledger of Doctor Benjamin Franklin, Postmaster General, 1776, by the Historic Documents Publishing Company in Vineland, New Jersey. This book may be available from your local library through inter-library loan.

    Census Records, 1790-1930

    Federal census records are available for every 10 years from 1790 through 1930, though most of the 1890 records were destroyed by fire. Records before 1850 contain little information beyond the name of the head of household. Beginning in 1850, the records list every household member by name, along with their age, occupation, and other information. The records are arranged by state and county, then by township or enumeration district, and then by household in the order visited by census takers. For information available by year, see "Availability of Census Records About Individuals" by the U.S. Census Bureau at www.census.gov/prod/2000pubs/cff-2.pdf (cc).

    Census records through 1930 are available on microfilm from the National Archives. Statewide indexes are useful for locating individuals in the microfilm records. Census records through 1930 have been digitized by Ancestry.com and HeritageQuest.com, making it possible to search for individuals by name only. Access to the records on these Web sites is available by subscription, and free-of-charge at some public libraries.

    City Directories, 1700s-

    Several of the largest U.S. cities had city directories by the end of the 1700s. By 1861, directories were printed in more than 80 cities. These directories list businesses, public and private institutions, residents and their addresses, and often contain detailed city maps. Occupation and race of residents are often noted in directories in the 19th century. City directories usually contain a separate section on the Post Office, listing the address and the name of the postmaster, and sometimes every employee, Post Office hours and mail schedule, and postal rates and regulations.

    Directories through 1960 have been reproduced by Primary Source Microfilm as City Directories of the United States, and may be available from your local library through inter-library loan. Libraries, historical societies and state archives may have copies of local city directories. A list of directories beginning with 1861 can be found at www.loc.gov/rr/microform/uscity.

    Confederate Post Office Department Records, 1861-1865

    Surviving records of the Confederate Post Office Department are located at the National Archives and at the Library of Congress.

    Records at the National Archives include:

  • A list of Post Office establishments, discontinuances, and name changes in the Confederate states beginning in 1861 (undated).
  • A register of accounts, 1864 to 1865, for Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, listing name of Post Office, county/state, and receipts.
  • An undated list of Kentucky Post Offices, by county.
  • Confederate records on mail contracts and routes in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia.
  • Confederate Post Office Department records at the National Archives are part of the War Department Collection of Confederate Records, Record Group 109.

    Records at the Library of Congress include:

  • An Appointment Bureau list of Post Offices, 1861 to 1865, with establishments, discontinuances, and name changes noted, along with names of postmasters and appointment dates, for Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.
  • A register of accounts for the quarter ending March 31, 1862, for Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas (includes Post Office and postmaster name and financial information on the office -- sometimes incomplete).
  • An Appointment Bureau list, 1861 to 1865, in no discernable order, of postmasters appointed in Arkansas, Indian Territory, Louisiana, and Texas (provides dates of appointment, bond and commission of the postmaster, the name and reason for leaving of the previous postmaster, the county of location, sureties' names, and miscellaneous remarks).
  • Journal and Orders of the postmaster general (contains lists of hundreds of postmaster appointments in the summer of 1861).
  • Letters sent by the postmaster general, 1861 to 1862 (contain occasional references to postmaster appointments).
  • Appointment Bureau letters sent, 1861 to 1865, partially indexed through November 4, 1863.
  • Letters sent by the Contract Bureau,1861 to 1864, mainly to contractorsand postmasters, which are indexed by recipient or Post Office name and provide details on mail service.
  • Confederate records on mail contracts and routes in the states of Mississippi and Virginia.
  • Confederate postal records at the Library of Congress are in the Manuscript Division as part of the Records of the Confederate States of America and have been reproduced on microfilm, which may be available from your local library through inter-library loan.

    Congressional Serial Set, 1789-

    From about 1817 to 1890, the Serial Set contains records of mail contract routes (also called "star routes"). Reports show the termini of the routes, the names of the contractors selected, and other information. General indexes to the Serial Set provide the years and volume numbers of mail route records, but they contain few references to specific mail routes.

    The congressional Serial Set is generally available in federal depository libraries. And a partial set is housed at the USPS Corporate Library

    Contract Route Registers, 1814-1960

    Registers of contract routes (also called "star routes") from 1814 to 1817, in 1824, from 1828 to 1870, and from 1917 to 1960 (years vary by state) usually list names of stops along routes, names of bidders for the contracts, frequency of service, distances involved, and modes of transportation. They generally do not show the names of subcontractors or carriers employed by the contractors. In some time periods, there are indexes to mail routes by Post Office.

    Contract route registers are located at the National Archives as part of the Records of the Post Office Department, Record Group 28.


    Route 65112, Snyder to Stoneham, Colorado, as recorded in contract route in 1918.

    Federal Statutes, 1789-

    In 1792 (to the late 1800s), the Statutes begin to list post roads established and discontinued by Congress, with stops on the routes noted. While there is a general index by subject ("post roads"; an index to the individual Acts of Congress dealing with post roads or routes), there is no index by Post Office.

    Federal Statutes are generally available at your local library.

    Page 3.

    Hugh Finlay's Journal, 1773-1774

    Hugh Finlay was appointed surveyor of post roads by the British postmaster general in 1772. He kept a journal from September 13, 1773, to May 24, 1774, in which he described in rich detail the Post Offices, postmasters, and mail routes he encountered in his journeys through New England and the South. Finlay also included a description of his travels through Quebec and touched on mail service in the cities of New York and Philadelphia.

    The journal was originally typeset and printed in 1867, and in 1975 it was reprinted by the U.S. Philatelic Classics Society as The Hugh Finlay Journal: Colonial Postal History 1773-1774. This book may be available from your local library through inter-library loan.

    Ledgers of the General Post Office, 1782-1799

    The Ledgers of the General Post Office contain the quarterly accounts of the General Post Office. These accounts include mail contractor names, their routes, and sums paid, and an alphabetical listing of Post Offices, including the postmaster's name, letter and newspaper postage collected and the postmaster's commissions on the same, and sums paid for ship letters.

    The Ledgers of the General Post Office are located at the National Archives as part of the Records of the Post Office Department, Record Group 28.

    Letters Sent by the Postmaster General, 1789-1952

    The earliest letters sent by the Postmaster General, between October 3, 1789, and December 31, 1836, are arranged chronologically in 50 volumes with an index of names of addressees. The letters reference specific Post Offices, postmasters, and mail contracts, and discuss mail transportation, postal laws and regulations, and budgetary matters, among other things.

    These volumes have been reproduced as National Archives Microfilm Publication 601, Letters Sent by the Postmaster General, 1789-1836, which is available for purchase from the National Archives and may be available from your local library through inter-library loan.

    Lists, Tables, and Directories of Post Offices, 1803-

    Lists, tables, and directories of Post Offices are available for nearly half of the years from 1803 to 1870, and continuously from 1955 to the present. (For information on the intervening period, see the entry below for the United States Official Postal Guide.) Although there is some variation by year, the earliest lists typically provide an alphabetical listing of Post Office names, along with the name of the postmaster, county and state, and the distances from the Post Office to the state capital and to Washington, D.C. The 1831 Table of Post Offices in the United States provides the first listing of Post Offices by county, which is regularly featured beginning in 1859. Directories of Post Offices from 1955 to 2004 list Post Offices, as well as stations and branches, alphabetically and by state and county, and provide the class of the Post Office (before 1975), as well as names of postal units discontinued in the preceding year. They do not show names of postmasters. Beginning in 1957, numbers of boxes served by Post Offices are listed. City delivery statistics are available beginning in 1979, when the Directory of Post Offices combined with the National ZIP Code Directory to form a new title, the National ZIP Code and Post Office Directory. This was last issued in 2004 as the National Five-Digit ZIP Code and Post Office Directory. Lists of Post Offices by state and county since 1986 can be found at www.usps.com/postmasterfinder. (See page 16, Postmaster Finder.)

    Selected editions of the List of Post Offices in the United States, Table of Post Offices in the United States, Directory of Post Offices, and National Five-Digit ZIP Code and Post Office Directory (titles vary slightly) may be available from your local library through inter-library loan.

    Newspapers, 1700s-

    Early newspapers often contain advertisements for mail route bids and for service on various routes. They also might contain the schedule of mail arrival and changes to mail service, Post Offices, and postmasters. Note: In the 18th and early 19th centuries, postmasters were sometimes also the local newspaper editor/printer.

    Microfilm copies of many newspapers may be available from your local library through inter-library loan. A useful guide to early American newspapers is the United States Newspaper Program at www.neh.gov/projects/usnp.html. Ten major U.S. newspapers dating back as far as the 1760s have been reproduced in searchable electronic databases by ProQuest Historical Newspapers™, available online by subscription and at many research libraries.

    Official Register of the United States, 1816-1911

    The biennial Official Register lists Post Offices and postal employees and their financial compensation in 1816, and in odd-numbered years from 1817 to 1911. The earliest editions of the Official Register list Headquarters employees, postmasters, Post Office clerks, and mail contractors. Route agents and mail messengers are first listed in 1855. Railway Mail Service employees and city carriers are listed beginning in 1867, and rural carriers beginning in 1899. From 1877 to 1905, the Official Register is indexed by employee name.

    Selected editions of the Official Register of the United States may be available from your local library through inter-library loan.

    Orders of the Postmaster General ("Journals"), 1835-1953

    The Orders of the Postmaster General, referred to as the 'Journals', are arranged chronologically in bound volumes covering the period from July 7, 1835, to March 5, 1953. Noted in these volumes are Post Office establishments, discontinuances, and name and site changes, as well as information on mail routes, contractors, and carriers. Also noted, upon their dates of appointment, are the names of postmasters appointed to Post Offices, as well as the names and reasons for leaving of the previously appointed postmasters ("moved away," "resigned," "declined position," etc.). Although these volumes are unindexed, they are useful to Post Office historians as a secondary source to verify pre-1880 information found in the Record of Appointment of Postmasters. (After 1880, the Postal Bulletin is available and is easier to use.) The 'Journals' are also helpful in identifying individuals who were appointed to the position of postmaster but who did not take office.

    The Journals are located at the National Archives as part of the Records of the Post Office Department, Record Group 28.

    Personnel Records, circa 1910-

    Personnel records for many postal employees whose service ended after approximately 1910 are available at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri. Note that some employees at smaller Post Offices -- such as clerks and assistant postmasters -- were employed directly by the postmaster, so federal personnel records are not available. Also, personnel records were not kept for people who carried mail on a contractual basis.

    Personnel records are available by writing to the National Personnel Records Center, Civilian Records Facility. Researchers should provide as much identifying information as possible about the former employee and his or her place and dates of employment.

    Postal Bulletin, March 1880-

    The Postal Bulletin (entitled Daily Bulletin of Orders Affecting the Postal Service prior to 1919) lists postmaster names and dates of commission until 1942. Acting postmasters are listed from 1884 to 1942. Star (contract) route establishments, discontinuances, and schedule changes are listed from 1880 to 1942, and rural route establishments, discontinuances, and changes are listed from 1898 to about 1934. The Postal Bulletin also gives Post Office establishment and discontinuance dates, as well as information on Post Office name and site changes. Beginning in 1907, the establishment and discontinuance dates of Post Office stations and branches are also provided. Note: Since the Postal Bulletin is largely unindexed, it is useful mainly as a back-up reference.

    The Postal Bulletin may be available from your local library through inter-library loan. Issues since January 1995 are available on the Postal Service's Web site at www.usps.com/cpim/ftp/bulletin/pb.html. Housed at the USPS Corporate Library.


    Prior to 1919, the Postal Bulletin was titled the Daily Bulletin of Orders Affecting the Postal Service

    Postmaster Finder, 1986-

    Postmaster Finder is a database maintained by the historian of the United States Postal Service. It provides the establishment and discontinuance dates of Post Offices and the names and appointment dates of postmasters, acting postmasters, and officers-in-charge who served in between the tenure of two postmasters. Dates of Post Office name and county changes are also recorded. Since its creation in 1986, Postmaster Finder has been the sole national repository of postmaster names and appointment dates, by Post Office. Pre-1986 information on Post Offices is gradually being added to the database and currently is available for about 30 percent of active Post Offices.

    Postmaster Finder is available on the Postal Service's Web site at www.usps.com/postmasterfinder.

    Page 4.

    Post Route Maps, 1830s-1940s

    Post route maps of counties, states, and groups or portions of states depict mail routes and show stops (Post Offices), distances between them, and frequency of service. Bodies of water, railroad lines, canals, and recently discontinued Post Offices are also sometimes shown. Statistics are sometimes given for the states depicted, including area in square miles, population and population density, number of Post Offices, and miles of railroads and canals.

    Post route and rural route maps are located in the National Archives' Cartographic and Architectural Section, at the National Archives at College Park, Maryland, and in the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress.

    Record Cards of Letter Carriers Separated from the Postal Service, 1863-ca. 1900

    The record cards of letter carriers whose service ended by about 1900 are index cards filed alphabetically by state, Post Office, and the name of the letter carrier. The cards give the carrier's appointment date and the date and reason for his separation from service, such as "resigned," "transferred," "died," or "removed." Causes for removal are sometimes noted. Although the cards generally date to 1899, dates through 1902 and even later may be found.

    The cards have been reproduced as National Archives Microfilm Publication M1846, Record Cards of Letter Carriers Separated from the Postal Service, 1863-1899 (3 rolls). They are available for purchase from the National Archives and may be available from your local library through inter-library loan.

    Record Cards of Postmaster Appointments, 1890s-1986

    The record cards of postmaster appointments (PS Forms 1094, 1095, and 1084) are index cards of postmaster and acting postmaster appointments and officer-in-charge installations at Post Offices from the late 1890s through 1986, filed alphabetically by state and Post Office. Post Office discontinuance/establishment information is also provided, along with dates when a Post Office was advanced to or relegated from the presidential class. (The president appointed postmasters at first-, second-, and third-class offices from 1864 to 1970. Classes were dropped in 1975.) These records are often the sole source of information on postmaster appointments at Post Offices from 1971 to 1986, although before 1971 they largely duplicate information found in the Record of Appointment of Postmasters.

    The record cards before about 1971 are located at the National Archives as part of the Records of the Post Office Department, Record Group 28. Cards after 1971 are located in the office of the Historian of the United States Postal Service.


    Sample record card of postmaster appointments, showing appointments at Oro Grande, California, from 1943 to 1979.

    Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1814-1971

    The Record of Appointment of Postmasters consists of ledgers of postmaster appointments by Post Office from 1814 to September 30, 1971. The records before 1832 are arranged alphabetically on a national basis, by Post Office name and state. County names are given beginning in 1824. After 1832, the records are arranged by state or territory, then by county, and then alphabetically by Post Office. The records show the names of Post Offices, the dates of their establishment and discontinuance, any name changes, and the names and appointment dates of postmasters. Surety information is sometimes provided before 1844. Beginning in the 1840s, presidential appointments are noted. Money order offices are noted beginning in the 1860s. After about 1870, the records show the names of Post Offices to which mail from discontinued offices was sent. Names of acting postmasters are listed beginning in the 1910s. (See also the description of this record at www.archives.gov. Search for 'post office records'.)

    The postmaster appointment ledgers have been reproduced as National Archives Microfilm Publication M1131, Record of Appointment of Postmasters, October 1789-1832 (Rolls 2, 3, and 4), and M841, Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-September 30, 1971 (145 rolls). They are available for purchase from the National Archives and may be available from your local library through inter-library loan.

    Record of First Returns Received from Postmasters, 1789-1818

    The Record of First Returns Received from Postmasters is a volume containing names of postmasters at Post Offices from October 1789 to July 1818, along with the dates of their first financial returns. Since postmasters were required to submit quarterly financial statements for their Post Offices, their first financial returns generally postdated their appointment by several months, although delays in submitting accounts were not uncommon. This volume is especially useful since records of postmaster appointments before 1814 were destroyed by a fire at Headquarters in 1836. (It is sometimes possible to find pre-1814 appointment dates for postmasters by searching for them in the index to the Letters Sent by the Postmaster General in the months preceding their first return date.)

    This record has been reproduced as Roll 1 of National Archives Microfilm Publication M1131, Record of Appointment of Postmasters, October 1789-1832. It is available for purchase from the National Archives and may be available from your local library through inter-library loan.

    Rural Free Delivery Records, 1901-1934

    Among the records of the Division of Rural Mails from 1901 to 1917 and from 1930 to 1934 are correspondence, reports, and supporting documents (sometimes including maps and petitions) regarding proposed rural route establishments and changes, filed by state and county. The Division records also include correspondence, filed by state and Post Office, from 1909 to 1929 and from 1930 to 1932. Inspection reports, referenced in the above files and arranged by state and report number, contain further details on proposed route changes, such as discussions of local topography, existing mail service, and customers served.

    The records of the Division of Rural Mails are located at the National Archives as part of the Records of the Post Office Department, Record Group 28.

    Rural Route Cards, 1896-1970s

    Rural route cards, filed by Post Office, list route lengths; establishment dates; and names, dates of service, and salaries of rural carriers.

    Rural route cards are housed at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri.

    Site Location Reports of Post Offices, 1837-1950

    The reports of site locations are forms completed and submitted by postmasters, mostly from 1845 until 1945, giving the location of their Post Offices and other geographical information. The reports typically show Post Office locations in relation to nearby Post Offices and transportation routes. Some reports show locations in terms of legal land descriptions, small grid maps of the vicinity of the office, or both. Reports submitted for proposed Post Offices, referred to as "applications to establish the Post Office," also list the number of patrons the Post Office would serve. (See also the description of this record at www.archives.gov. Search for 'post office records'.)

    These reports have been reproduced as National Archives Microfilm Publication M1126, Post Office Department Reports of Site Locations, 1837-1950 (683 rolls), which are available for purchase from the National Archives and may be available from your local library through inter-library loan.


    Site location report for the Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, Post Office, with a hand-drawn map of Morgan County, West Virginia, submitted by Postmaster Ann M. Mead in 1868.

    United States Official Postal Guide, 1874-1954

    The United States Official Postal Guide provides alphabetical lists of Post Offices nationwide, by state, and by state and county. Monthly supplements to the Guide show the latest Post Office establishments, discontinuances, and name and county changes.

    Selected issues of the United States Official Postal Guide may be available from your local library through inter-library loan. Housed at the USPS Corporate Library Top

    Locations of Records

    (Note: this section is ameded) *

    National Archives and Records Administration

    700 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Washington, DC 20408-0001

    * The National Archives houses postal records prior to 1971. Some of the records most useful in researching local postal history have been reproduced on microfilm, including National Archives Microfilm Publication M1131, Record of Appointment of Postmasters, October 1789-1832; Publication M841, Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-September 30, 1971; and Publication M1126, Post Office Department Reports of Site Locations, 1837-1950.

    This includes the Records of the Post Office Department, Record Group 28, and the War Department Collection of Confederate Records, Record Group 109, that are housed here. Many of the records most useful to researchers have been reproduced on microfilm and are available from the National Archives and its regional branches, and they may be available from your local library through inter-library loan. For further information, write to the above address or go to www.archives.gov.

    National Archives at College Park

    8601 Adelphi Road
    College Park, MD 20740-6001

    Post route maps are located in the Cartographic and Architectural Section of the Archives' College Park facility. For further information, write to the above address or go to www.archives.gov.

    National Personnel Records Center

    Civilian Records Facility
    111 Winnebago Street
    St. Louis, MO 63118-4126

    * The Civilian Records Facility has personnel records for many postal employees whose service ended after 1910. Researchers should provide as much identifying information as possible about the former employee and his/her place and dates of employment. The Civilian Records Facility also houses rural route cards, filed by Post Office, which provide details on rural routes and carriers.

    Note that some employees at smaller Post Offices -- such as clerks and assistant postmasters -- were employed directly by the postmaster, so federal personnel records are not available. Also, personnel records were not kept for people who carried mail on a contractual basis. (cite)

    Library of Congress : www.loc.gov

    101 Independence Avenue SE
    Washington, DC 20540-0002

    Also, the Library's Manuscript Division houses some records of the Confederate Post Office Department. The Geography and Map Division has early post route maps. To see some of its other useful maps, go to http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html.

    * The Library's Geography and Map Division has early post route, railroad, and other historical maps. Some of these maps have been digitized and can be viewed or downloaded from their Web site...search for "map collections".

    United States Board on Geographic Names

    U.S. Geological Survey
    523 National Center
    Reston, VA 20192-0523

    The United States Board on Geographic Names is tasked with standardizing geographic name usage. To search its domestic geographic names database, go to http://geonames.usgs.gov/domestic/index.html. Post Office names were typically suggested by prospective patrons; there are no postal records that explain their origin. <

    Historian, United States Postal Service

    475 L'Enfant Plaza SW
    Washington, DC 20260-0012

    * The historian maintains Postmaster Finder, the Postal Service's national historic record of postmasters by Post Office, online at www.usps.com/postmasterfinder. The historian's staff can provide guidance in researching specific aspects of postal history. Upon request, the historian's staff can provide the names and appointment dates of postmasters who have served at particular Post Offices, Post Office establishment and discontinuance dates, and the dates of any Post Office name changes. Response time varies with the number of requests received.

    Corporate Library, United States Postal Service

    475 L'Enfant Plaza SW
    Washington, DC 20260-1540

    Copies of many of the publications described in this booklet can be found in the collection of the Corporate Library. While the library does not lend out its historical materials, its collection is open to the general public during regular business hours. The library staff cannot respond to requests for research.

    * The Postal Service's library collection of historical material includes the Annual Report of the Postmaster General since 1789, Postal Laws and Regulations since 1794, the United States Official Postal Guide from 1874 to 1954, and the Postal Bulletin since 1880. (Exact titles vary.)... The library also has many secondary sources on postal history such as a partial set of the Congressional Serial Set .

    * Additional Resources

    (From Research Sources page)

    American Philatelic Research Library

    100 Match Factory Place
    Bellefonte, PA 16823-1367
    www.stamplibrary.org

    The American Philatelic Research Library, the library of the American Philatelic Society, is the largest public philatelic library in the United States. The library publishes a quarterly journal, Philatelic Literature Review.

    National Postal Museum

    Smithsonian Institution
    2 Massachusetts Avenue NE
    (West of Union Station, south of G St.)
    Washington, DC 20002-9997
    Tel: (202) 633-9370, (202) 633-5555
    TTY: (202) 633-9849
    Fax: 202.622.9371
    www.postalmuseum.si.edu
    and don't miss their online philatelic database Arago™ at : http://www.arago.si.edu/

    The National Postal Museum offers exhibits tracing the history of the postal system in the United States. It houses more than 13 million postal-related items -- mostly stamps, but also postal stationery, greeting cards, covers and letters, mailboxes, postal vehicles, handstamps, metering machines, patent models, uniforms, badges, and other objects related to postal history and philately. The museum’s library (one of the Smithsonian Institution Libraries), with more than 40,000 volumes and manuscripts, is open to the public by appointment.

    'And although resources 'focus on the postal history and philately of the United States, the collections are international in scope. Europe, North America and Australia are particularly well represented.' (NPM c.2005)

    (For a broader description see 'AJ's Encyclopedia of Stamps: USA)

    Railway Mail Service Library

    117 East Main Street
    Boyce, VA 22620-9639
    www.railwaymailservicelibrary.org

    The Railway Mail Service Library has artifacts, mail route schedules, schemes of mail distribution, and publications relating to the Railway Mail Service/Postal Transportation Service. The library is open by appointment but handles most requests by mail.

    And 'Pony Express Resources'

    Pony Express Museum

    914 Penn Street
    St. Joseph, MO 64503-2544
    www.ponyexpress.org

    The Wells Fargo Bank History Museum

    420 Montgomery Street
    San Francisco, CA 94104-1205
    www.wellsfargo.com (search for "museum")

    Lexington Historical Museum

    112 South 13th Street
    Lexington, MO 64067-1402

    Patee House Museum

    1202 Penn Street
    Post Office Box 1022
    St. Joseph, MO 64502-1022

    St. Joseph Museum Library

    3406 Frederick Avenue
    Post Office Box 8096
    St. Joseph, MO 64508-8096
    www.stjosephmuseum.org

    The Huntington Library

    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, CA 91108-1218
    www.huntington.org Top

    Page 5.

    Further Reading

    A detailed description of many of the postal records in the collection of the National Archives and Records Administration can be found in Preliminary Inventory Number 168: Records of the Post Office Department, prepared by and available from the National Archives.

    Many private researchers have compiled books on Post Offices by state, using postal records at the National Archives as well as local records. Your local library might be able to help you locate copies of these and other local postal history sources.

    Alabama (AL): ??

    Alaska (AK): Helbock, Richard W. ~ United States Post Offices, Volume I -- The West.

    Lake Oswego, Oregon: La Posta Publications, 1998.

    Arizona (AZ): Theobald, John, and Lillian Theobald. ~ Arizona Territory: Post Offices and Postmasters.

    Phoenix, Arizona: Arizona Historical Foundation, 1961.

    Arkansas (AR): Patera, Alan H., and John S. Gallagher. ~ Checklist of Arkansas Post Offices.

    Burtonsville, Maryland: The Depot, 1983.

    California (CA): Salley, Harold E. ~ History of California Post Offices, 1849-1976.

    La Mesa, California: Postal History Associates, Inc., 1977.

    Colorado (CO): Bauer, William H., James L. Ozment, and John H. Willard. ~ Colorado Postal History:

    the post offices.
    Crete, Nebraska: J-B Publishing Co., 1971.

    Connecticut (CT): Warmsley, Arthur J. ~ Connecticut Post Offices and Postmarks.

    Portland, Connecticut: self-published, 1977.

    Delaware (DE): Smith, Chester M. Jr., and John L. Kay ~ The Postal History of Maryland,

    the Delmarva Peninsula, and the District of Columbia:
    The Post Offices and First Postmasters from 1775 to 1984.
    Burtonsville, Maryland: The Depot, 1984.

    District of Columbia (DC): Smith, Chester M. Jr., and John L. Kay. ~ The Postal History of Maryland,

    the Delmarva Peninsula, and the District of Columbia:
    The Post Offices and First Postmasters from 1775 to 1984.
    Burtonsville, Maryland: The Depot, 1984.

    Florida (FL): Bradbury, Alford G., and E. Story Hallock. ~ A Chronology of Florida Post Offices.

    [Vero Beach, Florida]: The Florida Federation of Stamp Clubs, 1962.

    Georgia (GA): ??

    Hawaii (HI): ??

    Idaho (ID): Patera, Alan H., and John S. Gallagher. ~ A Checklist Of Idaho Post Offices.

    Burtonsville, Maryland: The Depot, 1984.

    Illinois (IL): Helbock, Richard W. ~ United States Post Offices, Volume III -- The Upper Midwest.

    Lake Oswego, Oregon: La Posta Publications, 1999.

    Indiana (IN): Baker, J. David. ~ The Postal History of Indiana.

    Louisville, Kentucky: Philatelic Bibliopole, 1976.

    Iowa (IA): Patera, Alan H., and John S. Gallagher. ~ Iowa Post Offices, 1833-1986.

    Lake Oswego, Oregon: The Depot, 1986.

    Kansas (KS): Baughman, Robert W. ~ Kansas Post Offices, May 29, 1828-August 3, 1961.

    Topeka, Kansas: Kansas Postal History Society, 1961.
    (Information from this book is available at search for 'post offices'.)

    Kentucky (KY): Patera, Alan H., and John S. Gallagher. ~ A Checklist of Kentucky Post Offices,

    Lake Grove, Oregon: The Depot, 1989.

    Louisiana (LA): Germann, John J. ~ Louisiana Post Offices.

    Lake Grove, Oregon: The Depot, 1990.

    Maine (ME): Dow, Sterling T. ~ Maine Postal History and Postmarks.

    Portland, Maine: Severn- Wylie-Jewett Co., 1943.

    Maryland (MD): Smith, Chester M. Jr., and John L. Kay. ~ The Postal History of Maryland,

    the Delmarva Peninsula, and the District of Columbia:
    The Post Offices and First Postmasters from 1775 to 1984.
    Burtonsville, Maryland: The Depot, 1984.

    Massachusetts (MA): Merolla, Lawrence M., and Frank M. Crowther. ~ The Post Offices of Massachusetts.

    North Abington, Massachusetts: Massachusetts Postal Research Society, 1981.

    Michigan (MI): Ellis, David M. ~ Michigan Postal History: The Post Offices, 1805-1986.

    Lake Grove, Oregon: The Depot, 1993.

    Minnesota (MN)L Patera, Alan H., and John S. Gallagher. ~ The Post Offices of Minnesota.

    Burtonsville, Maryland: The Depot, 1978.

    Mississippi (MS): ?

    Missouri (MO): Schultz, Robert G. ~ Missouri Post Offices, 1804-1981.

    St. Louis, Missouri: American Philatelic Society, 1982.

    Montana (MT): Lutz, Dennis J. ~ Montana Post Offices & Postmasters.

    Minot, North Dakota: publisher unknown, 1986.

    Nevada (NV): Frickstad, Walter N., and Edward W. Thrall. ~ A Century of Nevada Post Offices 1852-1957.

    Oakland, California: Philatelic Research Society, 1958.

    New Hampshire (NH): Smith, Chester M. Jr., and John L. Kay ~ The Postal History of New Hampshire:

    The Post Offices and First Postmasters from 1775 to 1985.
    Lake Grove, Oregon: The Depot, 1986.

    New Jersey (NJ): Kay, John L., and Chester M. Smith Jr. ~ New Jersey Postal History.

    Lawrence, Massachusetts: Quarterman Publications Inc., 1977.

    New Mexico (NM): Helbock, Richard W. ~ A Checklist of New Mexico Post Offices, 1849-1988.

    Lake Oswego, Oregon: La Posta Publications, 1989.

    New York (NY) Kay, John L., and Chester M. Smith Jr. ~ New York Postal History:

    The Post Offices and First Postmasters from 1775 to 1980.
    State College, Pennsylvania: American Philatelic Society, 1982.

    North Carolina (NC): ?

    North Dakota (ND): Patera, Alan H., and John S. Gallagher. ~ North Dakota Post Offices, 1850-1982.

    Burtonsville, Maryland: The Depot, 1982.

    Ohio (OH): Gallagher, John S., and Alan H. Patera. ~ The Post Offices of Ohio.

    Burtonsville, Maryland: The Depot, 1979.

    Oklahoma/Indian Territory (OK): Helbock, Richard W. ~ Oklahoma Post Offices.

    Lake Oswego, Oregon: La Posta Publications, 1987.

    Oregon (OR): Helbock, Richard W. ~ Oregon Post Offices, 1847-1982.

    Lake Oswego, Oregon: Raven Press, 1985.

    Pennsylvania (PA): Kay, John L., and Chester M. Smith Jr. ~ Pennsylvania Postal History.

    Lawrence, Massachusetts: Quarterman Publications, Inc., 1976.

    Rhode Island (RI): Merolla, Lawrence M., Frank M. Crowther, and Arthur B. Jackson. ~

    Rhode Island Postal History: the post offices.
    Providence, Rhode Island: Rhode Island Postal History Society, 1977.

    South Carolina (SC): ?

    South Dakota (SD): Patera, Alan H., John S. Gallagher, and Kenneth W. Stach. ~ South Dakota Post Offices.

    Lake Grove, Oregon: The Depot, 1990.

    Tennessee (TN): Frazier, D. R. ~ Tennessee Post Offices and Postmaster Appointments 1789-1984.

    Dover, Tennessee: self-published, 1984.

    Texas (TX): Wheat, Jim. ~ Postmasters and Post Offices of Texas, 1846-1930.

    [Garland, Texas]: self-published, ca. 1974.
    Information from this book is available at www.rootsweb.com/~txpost/postmasters.html.
    "...free, official, and fully-searchable version." (c.200910)

    Utah (UT): Gallagher, John S. ~ The Post Offices of Utah.

    Burtonsville, Maryland: The Depot, 1977.

    Vermont (VT): Slawson, George C., Arthur W. Bingham, and Sprague W. Drenan. ~

    The Postal History of Vermont.
    New York, New York: Collectors Club, 1969.

    Virginia (VA): ??

    Washington (WA): Boardman, Tim, and Richard W. Helbock. ~ Washington Post Offices.

    Lake Oswego, Oregon: La Posta Publications, 1986.

    West Virginia (WV): ??

    Wisconsin (WI): Hale, James B. ~ Wisconsin Post Office Handbook.

    Madison, Wisconsin: Wisconsin Postal History Society, 1988.

    Wyoming (WY): Helbock, Richard W. ~ A Checklist of Wyoming Post Offices, 1850-1988.

    Lake Oswego, Oregon: La Posta Publications, 1989.

    (that's 41 states & DC); Missing are:

    S. Carolina, N. Carolina, Virginia, W. Virginia, Hawaii, Georgia, Mississippi ...
    not to mention: Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, Samoa, ...
    Suggestions are welcome

    For information on United States Post Offices before 1811, see the following publication:

    Stets, Robert J. ~ Postmasters & Postoffices of the United States, 1782-1811.
    Lake Oswego, Oregon: La Posta Publications, 1994.

    Public Orders*
    For one free copy of this publication, write to the following address and ask for Publication 119. Be sure to include your complete address:

    Historian
    US Postal Service
    475 L'Enfant Plz SW
    Washington DC 20260-0012

    For multiple copies, call 800-332-0317 and select option 4. Tell the customer service representative that you would like to order copies of Publication 119, Sources of Historical Information on Post Offices, Postal Employees, Mail Routes, and Mail Contractors, August 2006 (PSN: 7610-05-000-4418; PSIN: PUB119). The representative will discuss with you the cost for copies ordered, shipping methods and handling charges, and payment procedures.

    Postal Service Employees
    You can order Publication 119 from the Material Distribution Center (MDC) by using touch tone order entry (TTOE):
    Call 800-332-0317, option 2.

    Note: You must be registered to use TTOE. To register, call 800-332-0317, option 1, extension 2925, and follow the prompts to leave a message. (Wait 48 hours after registering before placing your first order).

    Publication 119 and other Postal Service publications -- including Publication 100, The United States Postal Service, An American History -- are available online by going to www.usps.com/publications/pubs/welcome.htm.

    ©2006 United States Postal Service

    Data with the asterick (*) has been augmented or added (including the entire 'Additional Resources' section) to 'Publication 119' from:

    The USPS' " Research Sources" page.
    And : 'AJ's Encyclopedia of Stamps: USA
    And : Postmaster Finder's "Research Information"
    (as a consequence any 'order' for Publication 119 will not contain all data found on this page.)