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Indexes to Railway Postal Clerks, ca. 1883-1902



On the single roll of this microfilm publication, M2077, are reproduced three indexes to rosters of railway clerks, ca. 1883-ca. 1902. These records are part of Record Group (RG 28), Records of the Post Office Department, and are designated as Entry 118 in Preliminary Inventory (PI) No. 168, Records of the Post Office Department (Washington, DC: National Archives, 1967).


The position of Postmaster General was created by the Second Continental Congress, July 26, 1775, and continued by the Continental Congress following ratification of the Articles of Confederation, March 1, 1781. A temporary Office of Postmaster General was established in the Federal Government by the Post Office Act (1 Stat. 70), September 22, 1789, and the permanent Post Office Department established by the Post Office Act (1 Stat. 232), February 20, 1792. The Postmaster General was made a Cabinet member in 1829, and the Post Office Department elevated to Cabinet status by the Post Office Act (17 Stat. 283), June 8, 1872. The Post Office Department was abolished, effectively July 1, 1, 1971, by the Post Reorganization Act (84 Stat. 719), August 12, 1970, and functions were transferred to the U. S. Postal Service (USPS).

As the Department began to perform more services, functions of the Postmaster General were delegated to assistant postmasters.

Mail was first carried by railway in 1831, when a mail contractor utilized the services of the South Carolina Railroad. On December 5, 1832, the Post Office Department recognized this mode of transportation by permitting mail contractors to use railroad transportation from Lancaster to West Chester, PA; and on July 7, 1838, an Act of Congress (5 Stat. 283) declared all railroads in the United States to be post routes. Service by railroad thereafter increased rapidly.

The Railway Post Office Service was established on July 7, 1862, to facilitate the distribution of overland mail on the route from Hannibal, MO, to St. Joseph, MO. This service was extended to the eastern seaboard by 1864; and in that year the Office of the Superintendent of Railway Mail Service was established, with eastern and western divisions separated by the eastern boundary of the State of Indiana. The Office became a part of the Bureau of the Second Assistant Postmaster General about 1873. On July 1, 1907, it became the Division of Railway Mail Service.

Records Description

These records consist of three leather-bound volumes covering the years: 1) ca. 1883-ca. 1886, 2) ca. 1886-ca. 1892, and 3) ca. 1892-ca. 1902. Each volume contains two separate indexes: an index to railway postal routes and an index to railway postal clerks.

The route indexes are arranged roughly alphabetically bu names of cities on the route, such as "Bruce, Wis. to Minneapolis, Minn.", and vice versa. For each route, a volume letter (A-F) and page number is indicated.

The clerk indexes are arranged roughly alphabetically by the first name or two letters of the clerks's surname. For each act clerk, a volume letter (A-F) and page number is indicated; some clerks have several such entries following their names.

The volumes (A-F) referred to by this index are part of the records designed in PI 168 as Entry 119, Rosters of Special, Route, and Local Blank and Stamp Agents and Rosters of Railway Postal Clerks, 1855-97 [sic.]

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Compiled by Claire Prechtel-Kluskens.

A descriptive pamphlet will not be published.

Funds for this microfilm publication were provided by genealogist's contributions to the Malcolm H. Stern - NARA Gift Fund (formerly Genealogical Coordinating Committee.)

The Malcolm H. Stern - NARA Gift Fund and the National Archives and Records Administration, 1977.

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