Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Truth or Half-truth

 Recently I was on face book, looking at posts by my friends, when I came across the picture on the right above.  The caption beneath the photograph stated that at one time it was legal to mail children by attaching stamps to their clothing.  'Oh My Goodness!' I commented, but then I added, 'have you checked the accuracy of this image?'

My friend did not reply, and later I turned to Snopes to see if they knew the answer.  Like many things in life, I learned that the image is a little bit true, but not exactly. 
In 1913 the U.S. Post Office introduced Parcel Post, which for the first time provided the handling of mail that had been considered too heavy for normal letter mail handling.  As a result, it was legal to mail children, with stamps attached to their clothing.  In fact, that was done!

However, although a newspaper reported a family attaching the requisite 53 cents required by their daughter's weight to mail their little girl, the trip was only to her grandmother's home, most likely with the child having been entrusted to a mail carrier the family knew.  It is likely that the few examples of mailing children were jokes or arrangements for a short journey in the care of a trusted mail carrier.  Quickly a law was passed to make such events illegal.

With the help of Snopes, my question was answered, but I remembered my husband describing how, as a child, he would visit his mother, who worked at the local small town post office, and he remembered having seen chicks that were shipped to local farmers by mail.  That made me wonder whether live animals were still shipped by the U.S. Postal Service.

Thanks to the advertisement of 'Backyard Poultry' shown above, I learned that Baby Chicks can still be shipped by Mail.  In fact, as the Poultry ad explains, because newborn chicks are still digesting the yolk sacks from the eggs, they are especially well equipped to survive, if they are kept warm and arrive within three days at the most.

Sadly, in the fall of 2020, when requested funds were withheld from the Postal Service, there was a slowdown of mail delivery, and thousands of baby birds died.  This news was confirmed at

At the Postal site, I also discovered the requirements for shipping other live animals through the mail, such as Live Bees, Adult Birds, Live Scorpions, and Small, Harmless, Cold-Blooded Animals.

Who Knew!!!  The requirements are very specific, including general requirements that they must be able to make the trip without need for food, water, or attention while in transport, they must not create sanitary problems, and they must not create obnoxious odors.  If you are curious about more details, you may check the U.S. Postal Explorer.

As for the picture posted on face book by my friend, it may have truly depicted the mailing of a child, and that was briefly possible in 1913; however, the full reality of those cases would indicate that such mail delivery was not evidence of neglectful parents who took their child to the post office to be weighed and slapped the required stamps on their clothing and carelessly sent them on their way! 

1 comment:

The Blog Fodder said...

The death of so many chicks in 2020 was a crime. No excuse for it whatsoever.