In 1914, it cost 53 cents to send a child by mail

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Child sent by mail -- The Hot Mess Press

It is impossible to imagine sending a young child as a piece of mail on a solo train trip across the state. Yet there was a time when no one frowned upon the idea. In the 1900s, The United States Post Office Department announced that it would add carrying packages that weighed more than four pounds to its existing service of carrying letters. The name of the service later changed to The United States Postal Service.

Mail carriage
Mail Carriage

How to wrap a baby for mail

Many people, some of whom had different ideas than the service providers, welcomed the service. For instance, in a 1913 letter to the Post Master General, a customer asked how to wrap a parcel containing a baby. Furthermore, the customer explained that privately owned companies were not as trustworthy as the Post Office. They feared companies competing against the Post Office would handle the baby roughly.

Baby vintage

Ohio baby sent by mail

An article in the Smithsonian indicates that some people regarded parents exploiting the parcel service to mail children as grossly incompetent. However, it happened, and an 8-month old James Beagle traveled as a mailed parcel to his grandmother some miles away. His Ohio parents, Jesse and Mathilda, paid 15 cents postage for this service. Further, the parents insured the parcel for $50.

Vintage Girl

Idaho parents mail 5-year-old girl

Charlotte May Pierstorff’s parents John and Sarah, of Idaho, wanted to send their young daughter to her grandmother across the state. (Some sources say Charlotte May was 4 years old, while others say she was 5 years old.) Apparently, sending the child by mail cost only 53 cents. In comparison, a train ticket would be significantly more expensive. They attached the 53 cents postage stamps to the girl’s coat and loaded her into the train’s mail compartment. However, the Pierstorff’s did not insure this parcel. A family member employed by the postal service accompanied Charlotte May and handed her over to her grandparents after a 73-mile trip.

Post Office Van

The post office changed parcel rules

It came to a stage that the Postal Service changed the specifications of what people could mail as parcels. They advised carriers that, in the future, bugs and bees were the only live things allowed in packages. However, at least seven children had been sent as packages through The United States Post Office Department by that time. Reportedly, one child went on a 720-mile trip as a mailed parcel.

Can you imagine sending your child via the mail service in this day and age?

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