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U.S. Post Office Doesn’t Allow Children to be Sent Via Parcel Post

You can't send children through the mail
(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The U.S. Post Office doesn’t allow kids to be sent via Parcel Post, but this isn’t new news. It was this day in history, June 13, 1920, when the law officially went into effect.

The history of mailing children, according to About.com, is that people were looking to cut costs in the early 1900s. The USPS began the Parcel Post service in 1913, and people quickly discovered that if they wanted to send their kids away to see the grandparents for the summer, it was cheaper to mail them rather than buy a train ticket. Rules stated that packages couldn’t be over 50 pounds, so young children were perfect to send because of their light weight.

There’s a story of May Pierstorff, a five-year-old from Graneville, Idaho. Her parents wanted her to visit her grandparents in Lewiston, Idaho. She was sent through a train’s mail compartment with 53-cents worth of stamps on her jacket, which indicates that she was fortunately not sent in a box. It’s not clear if her parents were on the same train and traveling to see the grandparents as well. The incident happened in 1914 and is one of several cases of children being shipped by Parcel Post, so the Postmaster General decided a change needed to be made.

The Smithsonian goes into more detail, stating that most of the children were supervised by trusted postal carriers during their trip, and writing about two other incidents:

The first child “mailed” in the U.S. was an unnamed boy in Batavia, Ohio in mid January 1913. The son of Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Beauge of Glen Este, Ohio was carried by Rural Free Delivery carrier Vernon Little to its grandmother, Mrs. Louis Beague about a mile away. The boy’s parents paid 15-cents for the stamps and even insured their son for $50.

On January 27 Mr. and Mrs. J.W. Savis of Pine Hollow, Pennsylvania entrusted their daughter to rural carrier James Byerly out of Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, who delivered her safely that afternoon to relatives in Clay Hollow. The daughter cost her parents 45-cents to send.

Clearly it’s a terrible idea to ship children through the mail, but during tough times I can understand why it was done even though I don’t agree with it.

What do you think? Have you ever threatened your kids with mailing them?

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