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You want a new subject? - holidays and the US mail

I am going to be reworking an exhibit I put together and I am looking for the following dated covers in exhibit quality.

July 4, 1870 - Washington DC
November 24, 1870 - Washington DC
December 25, 1870 - Washington DC
January 1, 1871 - Washington DC
February 22, 1879 - Washington DC
February 22, 1885 - any post office
July 4, 1885 - any post office
November 26, 1885 - any post office
December 25, 1885 - any post office
January 1, 1886 - any post office

If you have any of these or would like to know why those dates, just reply to this message.


  • I don't have any of those covers buy am intrigued - why those dates and places?

  • On June 28, 1870, Congress passed legislation that established the first federal holidays. They were New Year's Day, Independence Day, Day of Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The law covered all per diem federal employees in the District of Columbia. Postal workers were per annum employees and were not covered by the holiday law. I want to show that postal workers were working on these days.

    On January 31, 1879, Washington's Birthday was added to the list. Still only per diem employees in the District of Columbia.

    On January 6, 1885, Congress added all federal per diem employees in and outside the District of Columbia to the holiday law. Still no annum employees.

    On February 23, 1888, Congress added Decoration Day to the list.

    On June 28, 1894, Congress added Labor Day to the list.

    Postal workers were still not included. It was not until February 28, 1919 that Congress extended the holiday law to cover postal workers.

    There is more to the story but this will give you the basics.

    Until 1919 the above holidays were just another day of work for postal employees. The December 25, 1961 cover I have was just another work day and nothing special. It is more difficult to find cancels on cover for holidays that were on a Sunday.

    Thanks for asking about it.

    Rolin Lewis
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