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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

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Mail Early: 1914

Mail Early: 1914

Washington, 1914. "Post Office Department, parcel post." Don't forget to include your Postal Zone. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.


12th & Pennsylvania

This is at the rear loading dock of the Post Office Department building at 12th Street & Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. Parcel Post was added as a mail class a year earlier, in 1913.

Frank R. Scheer
Railway Mail Service Library

Less is more.

Less IS more. There really is a charm about brown paper packages wrapped with string. Bet they used red string at Christmas.

There it is!

The package Great-Grandmother sent to me in 1914, and just arrived yesterday. She should have opted for first class.


Being something of a luddite, I occasionally still ship packages wrapped in brown paper, and tied with string. The post office never complains, and everything gets where it's going unharmed, so I have to wonder if it really is a no-no...

I actually just mailed several packages earlier today, which were wrapped in brown kraft paper and tied with parachute cord. (I'm out of twine, doh.)


I notice the packages are wrapped with string, in today's automated postal system this is a big don't.

Brown paper packages...

...tied up with string. These are a few of my favorite things!

Inspections required

Col. Klink: The early years.

THE 100-YEAR-OLD PHOTO BLOG | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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