In today’s post, Tim Fall shares some fascinating history about women’s equal access to the post office and draws some interesting parallels to the church.
Angela Serratore’s 2012 article on 19th Century women and the rise of modern postal service sheds light on a world foreign to people who use modern electronic communications with ease and from the privacy of their own smartphone.
As she notes in Post Secrets, in the mid-1800s New York City established its first post office, causing public concern over the implications for women.
For the first time, women who had formerly relied on parents, husbands, or even servants to retrieve their personal mail could now retrieve it themselves.
Suddenly, wide swaths of women had access to two dangerous things—the mail and the post office. Anthony Trollope’s 1852 invention of the pillar-box had given British girls a chance to subvert the authority of their scandalized parents by mailing letters in secret, but their New York counterparts who visited the post office could both send and receive mail almost entirely unmonitored by those who might want to regulate their epistolary lives.”
Ladies’ Windows were common, with some offices even having separate entrances for women where they would not rub shoulders with men at all.