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Family Tree Friday: Post Office Records

by on November 12, 2010


Did you know that Post Office records are useful for genealogical research? These records are often overlooked by beginning genealogists, but if your family was associated with the Post Office, they can provide some interesting information.

Some of my favorite records in this record group are the records of appointments of postmasters. There are two sections, the first covering 1789 to 1832 (available as National Archives microfilm publication M1131, Record of Appointment of Postmasters, Oct. 1789 – 1832). Entries are arranged alphabetically by the name of the post office. The records include the name of the post office, the state it is located in, the date of establishment of the post office, and the names of the postmasters, as well as their dates of appointment.

Below we see an entry from M1131. The postmaster for Flint Creek, in Ontario County, New York, was Erastus B. Woodworth. He was appointed on October 28 – the year appears to be 1830.

Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1789-1832

Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1789-1832

The second section, National Archives microfilm publication, M841, Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-Sept. 30, 1971, covers 1832 to September 30, 1971. It’s arranged by state, county, and the name of the post office. The information you will find is similar to the earlier records.

This entry shows post offices in Crawford County, Kansas. At the bottom of the page we see an entry for Hopefield. Joseph W. Lane was appointed postmaster on April 18, 1870. Additional notes indicate that the name of the town was changed to New Pittsburgh on August 28, 1876. Later records have the town listed as “Pittsburgh,” and at some point the final “h” was dropped, leaving it with its modern name of “Pittsburg.”

Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-September 30, 1971

Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-September 30, 1971

One of the reasons I find these records so interesting is that women often served as Postmasters, especially in the late 19th and early 20th centuries – not a time which is greatly associated with female federal employment.

Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-September 30, 1971

Record of Appointment of Postmasters, 1832-September 30, 1971

In January 1883, Augusta Georgia was appointed postmaster in Pittsburgh, Kansas. She served until March of 1886, when Albert Nan was appointed.

There are many more interesting Post Office records – I’ll share some more next time.

These records are part of Record Group 28, Records of the Post Office Department, 1773–1971. Microfilm copies of the records described above are available at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, as well as at some of our regional facilities. They have not been digitized. For more information about Post Office records, see our website.


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