5) Postal Service
After nearly 4,000 years of delivery by foot, horse, or boat, in the early 19th century the speed of mail delivery was greatly improved with the use of steamships and railroads. The first American railway post office was created in 1864. Where trains did not run, stagecoaches continued to deliver mail. Students can use this collection to study the impact of railroads on the postal service and its impact on the American lifestyle.
Search on mail service and post service to retrieve maps of post office locations and the rail lines that served them. Have students consider how quicker postal service would have affected the daily lives of citizens. Did most people receive mail each day? Who would send them letters? To whom might they write? What kinds of information might have been communicated by mail? How would business benefit from faster postal service?
To retrieve additional maps of postal routes and post offices, students can search on post and mail in the Transportation and Communication section of Map Collections: 1500-2004. Also have students search on telegraph to find maps depicting the routes this form of communication traveled.