The U.S. Post Office Used To Send Babies In The Mail

These days, parents never let their kids out of their sight. But once upon a time, they used to be literally mailed to their grandparents.

baby being wrapped up and sent through the mail to grandmas Joaquín Corbalán, Liza Summer, BruceEmmerling, Joe_Potato | Canva

On January 1, 1913, U.S. post offices began allowing people to mail parcels over four pounds in weight. With this allowance came very few restrictions on what people were and weren’t allowed to send — so some people decided to start testing those limits.

Strange items you would never think to send through the mail today began being sent through U.S. postal services — things like groceries, such as eggs, candy, butter. 


W. H. Coltharp, who was in charge of building the bank of Vernal, Utah, had the bright idea of sending bricks through the mail versus paying for wagon freights on a train. It was cost-effective, so he essentially sent the entire bank through the mail. According to, some people even sent snakes.

But by far there were even stranger items that would appear on the list.

The U.S. Post Office used to allow babies to be sent through the mail.

Nancy Pope, the head curator of history at the National Postal Museum, revealed to that there were about seven recorded instances of people mailing children between 1913 and 1915. The first? A baby in Ohio.


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The Beagues, a couple from Ohio, decided to take advantage of the loose restrictions on mailing to send a very important package: their infant son.

After paying 15 cents and an unknown amount to insure the child for $50, the Beagues handed him over to their mailman and shipped him off to his grandmother’s house about a mile away from them.

“The first few years of parcel post service — it was a bit of a mess,” Pope said. “You had different towns getting away with different things, depending on how their postmaster read the regulations.”


Sending babies through the mail wasn’t a common occurrence. As Pope said, there were only seven recorded instances, but it’s not as if these people were just handing up their babies to strangers.

In those days, people became very close with their mailmen, and for that reason, these instances were treated more as publicity stunts rather than a regular postal service being offered, according to fact-checking site Snopes.

The viral photos that people may have seen were staged and taken from a collection of historic Smithsonian Institution (SI) photographs, later uploaded to Flickr. According to the paper trail, the author of a Smithsonian Institute article spoke with Pope in 2009, who gave the same explanation.

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A 6-year-old girl was once sent as a parcel through Railway Mail.

On February 19, 1914, a 48.5-pound package (just under the 50-pound limit) had been “mailed” over 73 miles from Grangeville to Lewiston, Idaho via Railway Mail. That package was a 6-year-old girl named May Pierstorff.

The 53-cent postage stamp attached to May’s coat was far cheaper than paying for a ticket on the train, and May’s parents wanted to send her off for a visit to her grandmother’s house. Fortunately, the mailman on duty was one of their relatives, Leonard Mochel.

After hearing about the incident and how May’s parents cheated the system a little (read: used it to their advantage), Postmaster General Albert S. Burleson banned postal workers from accepting humans as mail.

However, this didn’t immediately stop people from sending babies and kids through the mail.


Two more recorded instances of this occurring happened in 2015. 

One came from a mother in Florida, who mailed her 6-year-old daughter 720 miles away to Virginia in order to visit her father who had a home there. And in August 1915, the last recorded instance of a child being sent through the mail was 3-year-old Maud Smith.

Smith's grandparents mailed her 40 miles through Kentucky to visit her sick mother. When Superintendent John Clark of the Cincinnati division of the Railway Mail Service investigated the incident, he asked why the mailman had accepted the “package” when it was now against regulations. “I don’t know if he lost his job, but he sure had some explaining to do,” Pope said.

More requests to send children through the mail came in, but they had no longer been accepted as they once were, and that put an end to the U.S. Post Office’s odd history of sending babies through the mail.


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Isaac Serna-Diez is an Assistant Editor for YourTango who focuses on entertainment and news, social justice, and politics.