Arago: Exhibits

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Getting Started

The Post Office Department set up a system to handle community requests for the service. First, farmers had to forward petitions with at least 100 signatures to their representative asking for the service. If approved, the petition was forwarded to the Department for action. Approved petitions were forwarded to one of eight rural delivery regions. A rural agent from that region would be dispatched to the farmers’ district to inspect the area. If he determined that the conditions were suitable for a rural route, the process would begin.

Agents would set up a route that could serve 100 families over approximately 25 miles. In order to create economically viable routes, agents could recommend the consolidation of local post offices, a move that would result in at least one 4th class postmaster losing a job. Because of this threat to their livelihood, few small town postmasters were enthusiastic supporters of the new service. Even those who kept their postmaster jobs could find fault with RFD service. Farmers would not need to come into town as often, which meant fewer purchases from those many 4th class postmasters who also ran general stores.

Travel commission for a Rural Delivery special agent

Credentials for rural agent, 1902

Odometer by Keuffel and Esser Company

Odometer used to measure route length.

Rural Letter Carrier's cash and stamp box

RFD carriers used cashboxes such as this to hold money, money orders, stamps and other supplies.