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Rural Wagon Delivering Mail, 1903

    Embedded Resource

Courtesy of Library of Congress, Weed, A.E., "Rural wagon delivering mail, U.S.P.O.," 1903


In the early 1890s, Postmaster General John Wanamaker proposed the extension of mail delivery service into the countryside. In U.S. cities, mail delivery to homes began in the 1860s. Wanamaker's proposal gained wide support in rural areas where farm families often went without mail for days and even weeks at a time. This video created in 1903 showed a typical rural delivery. The subject of the video is the delivery of the U.S. mail in a rural area. The camera was positioned in full sight of a standard rural free delivery post box located in front of a well-kept house and garden. A small boy and girl walk past the camera position in front of the mail box. At that moment, a standard rural horse-drawn postal delivery wagon comes into sight. The postman places the mail in the box, and the wagon continues on its way.

Source-Dependent Questions

  • If this video shows a "typical" farm family, what were the characteristics of that family? List specific details about the people and the grounds.
  • One of the strongest objections to John Wanamaker's proposal for rural free delivery of the mails was the cost. If the U.S. post office created this video to challenge those objections, what details in the presentation of this farm family could justify the expense of rural free delivery?

Citation Information 

Weed, A.E., "Rural wagon delivering mail, U.S.P.O.," 1903. Courtesy of Library of Congress