US Mail Motor Service Badge
US Mail Motor Service badge, number 6243, in the shape of an automobile wheel with a vertical scroll across the middle.
In an effort to standardize postal transportation, Postmaster General Albert Burleson inaugurated the Motor Vehicle Service in 1914. Prior to that, the Post Office Department relied exclusively on private contracts to furnish automobiles for city delivery.
Before the Post Office Department launched parcel post service, it used automobiles primarily for distributing mail to and collecting from street- side mailboxes. By 1917, however, the service operated out of most large cities and used automobiles for many different tasks. Chicago, for instance, had 225 vehicles and 500 chauffeur-letter carriers by this time. The larger vehicles were used to transfer heavy parcels and usually took two men to operate; the smaller vehicles were driven by chauffer-letter carriers, who were required to operate the vehicle and act as letter carriers. These postal workers delivered parcels and letters, collected the mail, and transferred packages to nearby post offices and train stations.