National Postal Museum - Systems at Work

A mail carriage in the 1800s
The National Postal Museum has been on my list of places to see since we first moved to DC. Despite the fact that it is across the street from Union Station and I have walked by it a hundred times, I had not stepped in.  Today, I decided that it was time to take a break, stretch my legs, and shake of the stupor of  family history that had engulfed me for the last three days, and go outside to enjoy the sunshine and the beautiful spring weather. So, I called up my friend, Paola, and we took the Metro into the city.

I was not disappointed. The National Postal Museum was not a large museum by any means, but it had several interesting displays housed in what used to be a post office! How cool is that? The architecture of the building was stunning and I spent some time just walking the hall and taking it all in before I even stepped inside the atrium. I could just imagine the place filled with people at the ornate windows, paying for and buying stamps, the postal workers sorting and receiving mail, and the hustle and bustle of people who were sharing important news with their family and loved ones. The museum was a special place.

The first exhibit that I visited was called Systems at Work. It showed how the process of the mail systems changed over time, whether by hand, machine, of cutting-tech software.

Entrance to the Atrium

My sweet friend, Paola.
The official postal system of the United States started in 1792. It grew rapidly over the next decade or so and continues to grow and be innovative today. Mailing letters used to be very expensive, at first. In the 1800s, postal officials started using select post offices as a hub for distribution, where they processed mail for large areas, sorted them, and sent them on. 

Due to the nation's westward expansion and immigration, the postal services had no choice but to expand and provide more services. So, they started employing various methods of transportation to deliver mail—horse, wagon, stagecoach, ship, airplanes, and train.

I learned of how postal stamps were sold, how bar codes were created, and how zip codes came into existence. It was fascinating information.

This was my favorite of all the displays in this exhibit. The Egg Delivery. This egg crate traveled many miles as an Alaskan farmer ordered eggs from Seattle. So this crate's journey included being on a ship, a small plane and a dogsled. Neat, right?

Oh, the things you learn if you just get out of your pajamas by 10am and get out of the house. :D the


Popular Posts