Right to your door

April 16, 2014 · Collections ·

You mean to tell me that at one time the postal service did not bring my mail directly to my house six days a week? How could that possibly be?

mailbox

We take home delivery of the mail for granted. In the 1890s most Americans lived in rural areas, outside the city, where they had to go to the local post office to retrieve their mail. In 1896, the Post Office began experimenting with home delivery in clearly defined areas. Once it proved effective, rural free delivery became a permanent service effective July 1, 1902.

Dana Leavenworth's letter to his Uncle Damon Turley, March 31, 1902. Ms 101860.

Dana Leavenworth’s letter to his Uncle Damon Turley, March 31, 1902. Ms 101860.

Rural Free Delivery came to Hotchkissville (part of Woodbury), Connecticut, in the spring of 1902. Dana Leavenworth wrote to his uncle Damon Turley of Chicago on March 31, 1902, about this phenomenon. Note his sense of wonder.

We are having Rural Free Delivery in this section of the town, being benefited by that adopted by Woodbury. So when my letter is written all I have to do is to hand it to the man who delivers and collects the mail, and it will be carried safely to the Hotchkissville Post Office. We expect to have a box made expressly for mail, but they have not arrived at the post office yet.

Reading “other people’s mail”, which is  part of my job, is great fun for many reasons, not the least of which is understanding that what we take for granted was not always available to our ancestors. Like home delivery of the mail.

Dana’s letter to his uncle is now part of the collection here at CHS and can be seen in the Research Center by requesting Ms 101860.

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