Saturday, June 16, 2012

70th Anniversary of V-Mail

This week marks the launch in 1942 of V-Mail , the overseas communication service used between military personnel, family and friends.

According to Jessica Porter Sadeq of the Smithsonian,"During World War II, Army Post Offices, Fleet Post Offices and U.S. post offices were flooded with mail sent by service members and family. V-Mail was a solution to the volume of mail competing with essential wartime supplies for cargo space.

She goes on to say, "The U.S. adapted Great Britain’s Airgraph service and integrated microfilm technology into its wartime system. V-Mail letters were copied onto microfilm, which was shipped overseas and reproduced at one-quarter of the original size at a processing station where it was then delivered to the addressee.

"V-Mail required standardized 8 ½-by-11-inch stationery like that pictured here from the Wessel Co. in Chicago. The distinguishing marks and uniform size of the stationery helped workers gather the folded letter sheets to be photographed onto 16 mm microfilm. All sheets were set to standard dimensions, weight, grain and layout so they fit in the Kodak microfilming machines.

"Correspondents could obtain two sheets per day from their local post office for free. Others opted to purchase the materials that were available in neighborhood stores.

"The National Postal Museum’s collection of V-Mail stationery demonstrates the intersection of governmental and commercial efforts to facilitate mail for the military. Frequent letter writing was encouraged for its morale-boosting effects on America’s soldiers."

For more on V-Mail, click here.
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posted by Don Schilling at 12:01 AM