Between 1913 and 1920, many Americans sent their children around the country by mail. Provided your child weighed less than 50 lbs, you could simply affix stamps to their clothing and send them off with the postmaster. They'd be whisked across the country in the railway system's mail compartments and delivered to relatives safe and sound.
Unsurprisingly, this practice rather alarmed the authorities, who, beginning in 1913, began to issue directives against the practice, starting with postmaster general Burleson's edict of 1914, which was roundly ignored.
The trips themselves were remarkable: six year old Edith Neff was sent by her mother from Pensacola, FL to her father in Charleston, VA for a mere 15 cents. A Maryland carrier transported a baby twelve miles. Children were insured for sums like $50, and were sent to grandparents and parents.
In the January 17, 1913 issue of the Richmond VA TimesDispatch
newspaper the above article appeared detailing an
inquiry from the postmaster in Ft. McPherson, Ga asking then
Postmaster General Hitchcock for clarification on how to mail
a baby or sending children through the mails. A summary of
the reply is "As babies, in the opinion of the Postmaster
General, do not fall within the category of bees and bugs, the
only live things that may be transported by mail, the
Postmaster General is apprehensive that he may not be of
assistance to his correspondent since no references to human
beings is found."
Shortly after the above Idaho trip and the above inquiry, the
new Postmaster General Burleson issued directions to the nation’s postmasters that all human beings were
barred from being sent via parcel post or any other means within the jurisdiction of the Postal Department.
As with many laws, policies or directives, this one was broken a mere month later. Rural carrier B.H. Knepper
in Maryland carried a 14-pound baby from its grandmother’s home near Clear Spring to the mother’s house in
Indian Springs, twelve miles away.
The Cover Story [Newton Kulp/Central Florida Stamp Club]