Melancholy Martyrs to Progress – the hazards of working on the Limited Mail

A Mid-Victorian Travelling Post Office van. (A travelling clerk, complete with carpetbag, is standing at the door).  Source: Routledge, Robert. Discoveries & Inventions of the Nineteenth Century, 13th Edition, London: George Routledge & Sons Ltd, 1900, p 111 Dr Augustus Waller Lewis, Chief Medical Officer to the Post Office, made an unexpected journey to the… Read More

Doug Brown (1977-2021)

Doug Brown: Historian, colleague, and friend We’re a project that deals with a lot of death. It’s something woven into the fabric of our working lives, a well-rehearsed routine: find the death certificates of historic postal workers, order them, download them, transcribe them, codify, analyse. We’ve done this all in a year with death surrounding… Read More

Dr Edith Shove: “She-Doctor” to the General Post Office

The Central Telegraph Office, General Post Office, London, 1874 Source: Illustrated London News, 12 December 1874 “The practical absurdity of directing a female medical inspector to inquire into and report upon the minute of every ailment which may temporarily incapacitate the rougher sex from a performance of their duties in the Telegraph department.”[1] This excerpt… Read More

‘Always at Work’: The Post Office Horse

‘He begins his week’s work at four o’clock on Sunday afternoon; he ends it at half-past ten on Sunday morning; and at any time during that long week he is liable for instant service, and has only five and a half hours’ undisturbed rest…that is the only respite he is sure of—just enough, as it… Read More

Prescribing golf: sport, health, and the Post Office

The Isis Swimming ClubSource: St Martin’s-le-Grand, 13 (1903), 108. Courtesy of The Postal Museum Amongst the pages of St Martin’s-le-Grand – a magazine for Post Office employees which ran from 1890 to 1933 – it is difficult to miss the significance of sport to postal workers. Accounts of sporting fixtures abound, showing the variety of… Read More

Big Data and Working Lives

Letter carrier with dog, silhouette (watercolour). Courtesy of The Postal Museum, London. In the last decade or so big data has become an increasingly common phrase in all manner of academic fields. British history has been no exception. Numerous projects have produced large datasets about various issues including the legacies of slavery, British fertility decline,… Read More