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Timeline of Significant Dates in Post Office History
Timeline of Significant Dates in Post Office History
(Extracts Reprinted from The USPS Website)

Timeline

1639- Richard Fairbanks' tavern in Boston named repository for overseas mail

1775- Benjamin Franklin, first Postmaster General under Continental Congress

1789- Samuel Osgood, first Postmaster General under Constitution

1823- Navigable waters designated post roads by Congress

1825- Dead letter office

1829- Postmaster General joins Cabinet

1830- Office of Instructions and Mail Depredations established, later Office of the Chief Postal Inspector

1838- Railroads designated post routes by Congress

1845- Star routes

1847- Postage stamps

1852- Stamped envelopes

1855- Registered Mail

1855- Compulsory prepayment of postage

1858- Street letter boxes

1860- Pony Express

1862- Railway mail service, experimental

1863- Free city delivery

1863- Uniform postage rates, regardless of distance

1863- Domestic mail divided into three classes

1864- Post offices categorized by classes

1864- Railroad post offices

1864- Domestic money orders

1869- Foreign or international money orders

1872- Congress enacts Mail Fraud Statute

1873- Penny postal card

1874- General Postal Union (later Universal Postal Union)

1879- Domestic mail divided into four classes

1880- Congress establishes title of Chief Post Office Inspector

1885- Special Delivery

1887- International parcel post

1893- First commemorative stamps

1896- Rural free delivery, experimental

1898- Private postcards authorized

1902- Rural free delivery, permanent

1911- Postal savings system

1911- Carriage of mail by airplane sanctioned between Garden City and Mineola, NY; Earle H. Ovington, first U. S. mail pilot

1912- Village delivery

1913- Parcel post

1913- Insurance

1913- Collect-on-delivery

1914- Government-owned and -operated vehicle service

1916- Postal Inspectors solve last known stagecoach robbery

1918- Airmail

1920- Metered postage

1920- First transcontinental airmail

1924- Regular transcontinental airmail service

1925- Special handling

1927- International airmail

1935- Trans-Pacific airmail

1939- Trans-Atlantic airmail

1939- Autogiro service, experimental

1941- Highway post offices

1942- V-mail

1943- Postal zoning system in 124 major post offices

1948- Parcel post international air service

1948- Parcel post domestic air service

1950- Residential deliveries cut from two to one a day

1953- Piggy-back mail service by trailers or railroad flatcars

1953- Airlift

1955- Certified mail

1957- Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee

1959- Missile mail dispatched from submarine to mainland Florida

1960- Facsimile mail

1963- ZIP Code and sectional center plan

1964- Self-service post offices

1964- Simplified postmark

1965- Optical scanner (ZIP Code reader tested)

1966- Postal savings system terminated

1967- Mandatory presorting by ZIP Code for second- and third-class mailers

1968- Priority Mail, a subclass of First-Class Mail

1969- Patronage no longer a factor in postmaster and rural carrier appointments

1969- First die proof of a postage stamp canceled on moon by Apollo 11 mission

1970- MAILGRAM

1970- Postal Reorganization Act

1970- Express Mail, experimental

1971- United States Postal Service began operation; Postmaster General no longer in Cabinet

1971- Labor contract achieved through collective bargaining for the first time in history of federal government

1971- Star routes changed to highway contract routes

1971- National service standards established: overnight delivery of 95% of airmail within 600 miles and 95% of First-Class Mail within local areas

1972- Stamps by mail

1972- Passport applications accepted in post offices

1973- National service standards expanded to include second-day delivery of parcel post traveling up to 150 miles, with one-day delivery time added for each additional 400 miles

1974- Highway post offices terminated

1974- First satellite transmission of MAILGRAMs

1976- Post office class categories eliminated

1976- Discount for presorted First-Class Mail

1977- Airmail abolished as a separate rate category

1977- Express Mail, permanent new class of service

1977- Final run of railroad post office on June 30

1978- Discount for presorted second-class mail

1978- Postage stamps and other philatelic items copyrighted

1979- Discount for presorted bulk third-class mail

1979- Postal Career Executive Service (PCES)

1980- New standards require envelopes and postcards to be at least 3 1/2" high and 5" long to be mailable

1980- INTELPOST (high-speed international electronic message service)

1981- Controlled circulation classification discontinued

1981- Discount for First-Class Mail presorted to carrier routes

1982- Automation begins with installation of optical character readers

1982- E-COM (Electronic Computer-Originated Mail, electronic message service with hard copy delivery)

1983- ZIP + 4

1983- Ended public service subsidy from federal government

1984- Integrated retail terminals automate postal windows

1985- Jackie Strange, first female Deputy Postmaster General

1985- E-COM terminated

1986- International Priority Airmail

1986- Postal Service realigned; field divisions created

1987- Small parcel and bundle sorters

1987- Stamps by phone

1987- Multiline optical character readers ordered

1988- Inspector General's Act extends duties of Chief Postal Inspector

1989- Universal Postal Union Congress in Washington, DC

1990- Wide area barcode readers

1990- Easy Stamp, allowing purchase of stamps through computers

1990- International business reply service

1991- Independent measurement of First-Class Mail service

1992- Remote barcoding system

1992- Reorganization: regions, divisions and management sectional centers replaced by area and district offices for customer service and mail processing

1992- Stamps sold through automatic teller machines

History of the United States Post Office - Table of Contents

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