Friday, October 08, 2010

First Automated Post Office in the U.S.

This month marks the 50th Anniversary of the first automated post office in the United States.

According to the National Postal Museum (NPM), "On October 20, 1960, the Post Office Department placed into service a new mail processing facility at Providence, Rhode Island, and widely promoted it as "the first automated post office in the United States." Intelex, a subsidiary of the International Telephone & Telegraph conglomerate, built the thirteen-acre facility under contract and turned it over to the Post Office Department ready to operate. It incorporated the first automatic, high-speed sorting, facing, and cancelling machines as well as three miles of conveyor belts that moved mail between processing areas within the plant and to the loading docks for transport."

To promote the opening of the facility, the stamp shown above was issued.  It depicts an architect's rendering of the new facility and was the first US issue that directly celebrated the Post Office Department.

The NPM points out, "When the idea for a postage stamp publicizing the new facility was presented to the Citizens Stamp Advisory Committee on June 28, 1960, it was unanimously rejected as 'obviously self-serving.' The committee further predicted that the stamp would be "unpopular because it is promoting automation at a time when unemployment is increasing."

"Postmaster General Arthur Summerfield authorized the stamp anyway (the committee's findings are not binding), and it proved very popular: 833,306 copies of the stamp were sold on the first day of issue, and 458,237 first day covers were serviced. The success paved the way for future postal themes on stamps, including the 1963 5-cent City Mail Delivery issue, the 1971 8-cent United States Postal Service logo issue, and the 1974 Postal Service Employees issue."

To read the entire article, click here.

This Sunday there will be a free tour of the facility (which has tripled in size). Attendees will be able to view the latest state-of-the-art postal processing equipment, listen to the 60s music, pay tribute to our military, decorate pumpkins, take a photo with Mr. ZIP, touch a truck, give blood and more. Refreshments will be served. For more information, go to
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM