Final Paper for LIS 590 ISP – Social History of US Telecommunications (Fall, 2013)
Between the War Front and the Home Front: A History of Military Mail Service
One of the most important advantages a military can have is a rapid and reliable means of communication with its disparate parts. Throughout much of history, however, keeping abreast of military intelligence meant being on the field, in the thick of the action, but only aware of what was going on right there at that time. Communication with home, for either military or personal purposes, was generally either very difficult or simply impossible. New modes of communication, however, have eliminated that complication. Whereas in the time before and during the Revolutionary War reliable mail delivery for military or civilian uses was almost non-existent, today members of the U.S. military have access to nearly instantaneous electronic communication for both official use, connecting the far-flung branches of the military, and personal use, connecting with home. At the same time, they still continue to use the Military Postal Service Agency’s mail services for a variety of purposes, both official and unofficial. This paper will trace how the evolution of the American civilian and military postal systems has affected the ways in which the U.S. fights its wars and how its military personnel communicate with home.