Until 1915 It Was Legal to Mail Children by US Mail: Facts


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Picture about Until 1915 It Was Legal to Mail Children by US Mail
Until 1915 It Was Legal to Mail Children by US Mail

Story: 

Until 1915 it was legal to mail a baby by US Mail.

Other Versions

1. It used to be legal to send kids in the mail.

2. In 1913 it was legal to mail children. With stamps attached to their clothing, children rode trains to their destinations, accompanied by letter carriers. One newspaper reported it cost fifty-three cents for parents to mail their daughter to her grandparents for a family visit. As news stories and photos popped up around the country, it didn’t take long to get a law on the books making it illegal to send children through the mail.

Picture about Until 1915 It Was Legal to Mail Children by US Mail
Until 1915 It Was Legal to Mail Children by US Mail

Analysis:

The interesting story shared online comes along with couple of pictures to show that until 1915 it used to be legal to ‘mail’ children by US Mail, with stamps attached to their clothing. The claims are mixture of hoax and facts, as discussed below.

Background

In 1913, the U.S. Post Office Department introduced Parcel Post, i.e. affordable parcel delivery for all Americans and started accepting packages weighing up to 11 pounds for mailing. In early years, before more specific regulations were implemented by the postal department, Americans took advantage of this affordable service to mail all kinds of unusual things, including babies and small children. However, like suggested in the story, it did not happen often, and neither it was like a regular mail where one would wrap up children and attach stamps to them before mailing.

Few Incidents

There were only few such documented incidents where children were sent through the US mail, some of which were just publicity stunts. The couple of pictures that are shared with these stories are not associated with any ‘mailing’ of child; they are staged for fun and are a part of Smithsonian Institution collection of photographs. Some children were mailed by their families along with known postal workers.

In mid January 1913, Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Beauge of Glen Este, Ohio mailed their son to his grandmother, Mrs. Louis Beague about a mile away with Vernon Little, a Rural Free Delivery carrier. They paid 15-cents for the stamps and also insured their son for $50. On 27 January, Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Savis of Pine Hollow, Pennsylvania entrusted their daughter to rural carrier James Byerly out of Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, to deliver her safely to relatives in Clay Hollow. It costed the parents 45-cents. On 19 February, another girl May Pierstorff (picture below), just short of her 6th birthday, was mailed from her parents’ home in Grangeville, Idaho to her grandparents’ house about 73 miles away for 53-cents worth of stamps. This incident also caused inquiry about mailing children that month, which made Postmaster General Burleson to issue directions to the nation’s postmasters that all human beings were barred from the mails.

Picture of May Pierstorff sent through Mail
May Pierstorff sent through Mail

After the “no-humans” announcement, mailing children did take place now and then against the regulations until 1915 when strict laws were made (on the books) against the same.

Hoax or Fact:

Mixture of hoax and facts.

References:

Very Special Deliveries: National Postal Museum
Universal Service and the Postal Monopoly: A Brief History


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Prashanth Damarla
Debunker

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