Postal Systems

Getting mail from place to place is very important in society. There have been many systems to deliver letters--from ships to walking to horses. Our contemporary mail delivery system is high-tech. Machines read and sort much of our mail, and it only takes about two days and costs under 40 cents to send a standard letter from New York City to Los Angeles.

Sample some of the following activities to learn more about the postal system.


Places To Go    People To See    Things To Do    Teacher Resources    Bibliography

Places To Go

National Postal Museum
Visit the National Postal Museum at the Smithsonian and find postal history for each state and curriculum guides for teachers.
The Pony Express Museum
The Pony Express was in service from April 1860 to November 1861. Its primary mission was to deliver mail and news between St. Joseph, Missouri, and San Francisco, California.
Pony Express Trail
Learn some general information about the Pony Express, including some of the stops that were made in Utah.
United States Postal Service
This site for the United States Postal Service features all kinds of information for business folks and consumers. You can also visit your local post office. They have supplies for stamp collections.
Utah Philatelic Society
Philatelists are people who collect stamps. They meet on the 1st and 3rd Thursdayat 6:30 at:the Sandy Senior Citizen Center, 9310 S. 1300 E., Sandy.

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People To See

Benjamin Franklin: World of Influence
Benjamin Franklin was named the first Postmaster General of the colonies on July 26, 1775. Franklin, who recognized the importance of effective communication between the colonies, created the American Postal Service.
Desert Camel Experiment
Visit with the citizens of the southern states during the American Civil War. The Confederate government experimented with using camels to carry mail.
First Post Office in America (1639)
Chat with the people of Boston. In the early 1600s, their city was the site of the first post office in the new American colonies—although it wasn’t an official post office. A man named Richard Fairbanks owned a popular tavern. As travelers or business people were passing through different places throughout the colonies, and if they knew they would also be passing through Boston, they would gather mail, messages, or packages and bring them to Richard Fairbanks’ tavern.
History of the Post Office Making The Mail Faster (pdf)
Visit with the people who live in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Their mail is delivered by mules. Five days a week, a group of mules travel three to five hours to deliver mail and other supplies to the residents of the small town of Supai, Arizona. This town is part of the Havasupai Indian Reservation at the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
Mail Carrier Profile
Find out more information about what it takes to be a mail carrier.
Pony Express Riders
This site features a list of many of the brave young men who rode for the Pony Express. You can learn more about one of the more famous riders, William Cody (a.k.a. "Buffalo Bill") as well.

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Things To Do

The Early Postal System
See how the early postal system differed from our system today. One big difference was that mail was not delivered to your house; it had to be picked up at the post office. Another interesting difference was that many times letters were mailed with postage that had not yet been paid for. When you went to the post office for you mail, you often had to pay just to receive your letters.
Flat Stanley Project
Flat Stanley is a book by by Jeff Brown. In the story a boy named Stanley Lambchop is squashed flat when a bulletin board falls on him. The project involves hosting one of these flattened Stanleys and writing in his journal about your school, your state, or what ever type of information is asked for by the class member who sends him. After a few days of entertaining Stanley you send him back to his owner and the information is shared.
History of the United States Postal Service
Find out who the first Postmaster General was and explore a bunch of other interesting information about the history and evolution of the United States Postal Service.
History of the United States Postal System
Learn all about the origins of our post offices. The first capital of the United States was in Philadelphia , and it was also the first postal headquarters. When these headquarters were moved to Washington D.C. in 1800, the officials were able to carry all postal records, furniture, and supplies in two horse-drawn wagons.
Mailing May
Read the 32-page picture book by Michael O. Tunnell. He is a Utah author! The book is based on a true story and is beautifully illustrated by Ted Rand. It was a nominee for 1998-99 Utah Children's Picture Book Award.
Sci-philately: A Selective History of Science on Stamps
Who knew there were so many famous scientists features on stamps? Browse through dozens of examples of stamps commemorating chemists, biologists, astronomers, mathematicians, physicists, etc. and find biographical information about eachscientist.
Stamps Online
Start a stamp collection. Stamps are inexpensive and easy to collect.

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Teacher Resources

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  • Brown, Jeff. Flat Stanley. HarperTrophy: New York, 1996.
  • Brown, Jeff. Invisible Stanley. HarperTrophy: New York, 1996.
  • Brown, Jeff. Stanley and the Magic Lamp. HarperCollins: New York, 1996.
  • Savage, Jeff. Pony Express Riders of the Wild West. Enslow: Springfield, N.J., 1995.
  • Skurzynski, Gloria. Here Comes the Mail. Bradbury Press: New York, 1992.
  • Tunnell, Michael O. Mailing May. Greenwillow Books: New York, 1997.