Arago: Popular Culture

Popular Culture

American popular culture is filled with visual and written references to one of the oldest, largest, and most recognizable, government services—the postal service. Even when communication leapt off the written page and into computer-based systems, it came with a small mailbox and the announcement that “You have mail.” Post offices, letter carriers, mailboxes, stamps, letters, and packages . . . all of these and more are part of our national shared experience. As a result, we continue to use these common, easily recognized icons in all we produce.

Through much of the twentieth century, advertisers used postal references to equate a product with speed or reliability. In the arts, postal references help create a sense of the 'everyday'. Letter carriers and mail are easily recognizable symbols in books and media aimed at children. The quick recognition of postal employees and equipment has been used in film, theater and television for decades to create a scene that is swiftly and easily recognizable as an American town.