It’s shocking but true that the United States Postal Service didn’t have any laws preventing people from mailing humans. It’s even more shocking that parents would mail their babies through the postal service too.
Things were no different back in the day. When mom and dad needed a long weekend or a week off from parenting, they’d call on grandparents. That’s normal enough, until you realize that some of these folks would mail their babies to grandma instead of actually making the trip by cars. The electric streetcar was a common form of transportation at that time. These trolleys ran on metal tracks built into streets.
Soon, however, people began to drive their own cars but driving was often difficult because few good roads for driving existed.
So, it became usual and quite appropriate to mail babies to any desired destination. The only law parents had to abide by was that the child could not exceed the postal service’s 11 pound limit, which included parcels and, well, babies if only because the initial regulation said nothing about mailing babies whatsoever.
Parcel post rates were cheap, which made this a very desirable way to send junior away for babysitting. In fact, parents would attach stamps to the babies’ clothing and were handed off to the city carriers to their destination!
The first documented event of shipping a baby dates back to January 17, 1913, when Mr. and Mrs. Jese Beauge of Glen Este, Ohio mailed their son to his grandmother. The Rural free delivery carrier Vernon Little transported the child about one mile for 15 cents. Another case of mailing a child was on January 27, 1913, when Mr. and Mrs. Savis sent their daughter to rural carrier James Byerly, who delivered the baby girl safely that very afternoon to relatives in Clay Hollow. After four-year-old Charlotte May Pierstorff was mailed from her parents to her grandparents in Idaho in 1914, mailing of people was prohibited.
This is how the prohibition of mailing babies was worded:
“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.”