National Postal Museum Special and Archival Collections

About the Special Collections

Highway Post Office Mail Truck

Postal Service Mail Truck, ca. 1920 Highway Post Office Mail Truck Highway Post Office Mail Truck

Finding Aids

  • Title: Postal and Philatelic Files Online
    Available at:http://www.sil.si.edu/digitalcollections/npm/
    Description: This online finding aid - which is not yet complete, and whose site is still evolving - includes files of the of the Third Assistant Postmaster General, the Aerial Mail Service files (see below), and the Panama Canal Zone Post Office files (see description below).
  • Title: Butler & Carpenter correspondence 
    Description: This collection of correspondence documents the business dealings of Butler & Carpenter (1862-1878). The firm engraved and printed revenue stamps for legal documents and various commodities – including alcohol, tobacco, matches and medicine.
  • Title: Railway Mail Service
    Description: This archival collection documents the history of the Railway Mail Service (1832-1977). At the height of its service in the 1930s, more than 10,000 trains were used by the RMS to move the mail into every city, town, and village in the United States. The collection is currently uncatalogued. It contains both documents and photographs. The contents include: business records, correspondence, media coverage, photographs and other material relating to the RMS.
  • Title: Aerial Mail Service
    Description: This archival collection documents the history of the Aerial Mail Service (1918 – 1927). On May 15, 1918, the U.S. Post Office Department established the first air mail route in the United States between New York, NY, and Washington, DC. From its inception, the Aerial Mail Service was intended to operate only as long as necessary to clearly demonstrate the practicality of commercial aviation and induce private enterprise to take over the operation. The Post Office relinquished control of the service to private air-transport carriers on June 30, 1927.
  • Title: Highway Post Office
    Description: This archival collection documents the history of the Highway Post Office (1941 – 1974). On February 10, 1941, the Highway Post Office inaugurated service between Washington, DC, and Harrisonburg, VA. Highway mail routes served an average of 25 post offices directly and many others indirectly through Star Route and railway mail connections. The end of the Highway Post Office system was signaled by a major reorganization within the Post Office Department - the adoption of the sectional center concept and high-speed sorting equipment in 1974.
  • Title: Panama Canal Zone Post Office
    Description: This archival collection documents the history of the Panama Canal Zone Post Office (1904 – 1999). When the Canal properties were turned over to the United States in 1904, the Department of Revenues established an independent postal service to handle ordinary mail, money orders and postal savings. The Panama Canal Zone postal service continued to operate until 1999, when the Republic of Panama resumed control of the Canal.
  • Title: Frederick J. Melville working papers
    Description: Frederick Melville was Great Britain’s greatest writer, editor and publisher of philatelic literature from the 1890’s to the 1940’s. These are his working papers – research, drafts, articles and books on a wide range of philatelic topics.
  • Title: Thaddeus P. Hyatt working papers
    Description: Dr. Hyatt was a leading student and collector of worldwide material concerning the movement of mail. The collection includes journal articles, newspaper clippings, photographs and other ephemera on the subject.