Internet Resources for Postal History Research

An annotated listing of online resources that have been found useful in general postal history research. The notes and hints are subjective (name of submitter in parentheses). Subscription access website links shown in red. As this expands, web pages for each category will be listed.

Auction house archives are also an excellent resource but are not included (most all firms have past sales available either via Google search or their own search archive facilities).

New Listings - 2018/2019

U.S. Mail Contracts  1801 / 1816 in separate PDF files as contributed by James Baird:
1801_1804 Contracts, 1805, 1809, 1810, 1811, 1812, 1813, 1814, 1815, 1816

U.S. 1859 Postal Laws and Regulations (PL&R) PDF file supplied by Stefan Jaronski

U.S. Public & General Statutes, 1789 to 1827. PDF file (82 mb) supplied by Gary Lowe

Veridian Collections (Newspapers). Veridian digitizes newspapers and other historical collections. They recently took over California Digital Collection and cleaned up many of OCR errors in the "Daily Alta" for example. (Link contributed by James Baird)

U.S. Postmaster General Letter Books, 1789 - 1836. Page of links from the US Philatelic Classics Society from microfilm of handwritten letters sent by the the Postmasters General. Not searchable and hard on the eyes but GREAT information that awaits discovery! Highest importance. (RCF)

Official Registers of the U.S. 1817-1921: Page of links on HaitiTrust site.  This link contributed by Chip Gliedman - "May not be perfect or easily searchable, but I've used it many times for postmaster compensation and other stuff"

Timeline of Philatelic Literature: Page of links compiled by Don Heller in February 2018. This link contributed and suggested by Martin Hosselmann.

(Frajola's) Links for Western Postal History Research: Page of links compiled for my 2014 Westpex presentation.

Newspaper Archives

GenealogyBank.Com: A subscription service. First choice for searching U.S. newspapers from 1800 to 1950. Good search capabilities and although missing a few major papers, much of the news was published elsewhere. (RCF) 

The London Times : A subscription service. 1785 - 1985 newspapers. (RCF)

New York Times : A subscription service that is free if you subscribe to the paper. Link is an advanced search for "Post Office" in 1863 but change search terms, date for desired results. At present newspaper are avaialble back to 1851. (RCF)

Newspaper Archive : A pay site.  Its search engine is a bit more cumbersome than genealogybank.  You can “view” their paper holdings for free.  They do have runs of certain papers that genealogybank does not have and you can search items by paper. (Vince King)

Accessible Archives : A subscription site. Useful especially for per 1800 papers (SC, PA and VA) and Civil War era papers. (John Olenkiewicz).

California Digital Newspaper Collection : Useful but search results often incomplete due to poor quality of images that were OCR'd. (RCF)

British Library Site of British Newspapers : 1800-1900, Good site (RCF)

Niles Weekly Register : A Google Books Search Result Link. These issues include great info on period 1811-1849. Or for an expensive subscription, site try here. (RCF)

The Charleston Mercury : An example of what can be found via Google News (RCF)

Paper Of Record : Database purchase by Google but some papers possibly still not included there. (David D'Alessandris)

Historical Papers Online : A list of links to newspapers available. This table provides a list of historical U.S. newspapers that are available online at no cost. Newspapers available for free through Google News Historical Archives and are listed individually as I identify them. Newspapers available through Chronicling America and state digitization projects are usually listed as a group. (Leonard Piszkiewicz)

Wikipedia List of Online Newspapers : Most free access sites are included. (Martin Hosselmann)

Trove - Australian Newspapers : Hit and miss (Fred Gregory)

Proquest Newspapers : You need a library card from a library that has it available to get access. Lots of libraries have the ProQuest NYTimes available online. Where I live, in California, one can get access fairly easily. (Leonard Piszkiewicz)

Antebellum Southern Newspapers : There is a search engine at top. Enter “mail” and you can see. The papers are listed below. They have transcribed articles generally of local interest. However, only 1% content is transcribed (Vince King)

New Zealand Newspapers : (Papers Past) A free site that allows searching of 119 New Zealand newspapers from 1839 to 1948. (Farley Katz)

Map Archives

David Rumsey Map Collection : The best map site by far. Maps can be downloaded at high resolution. (RCF)

N2Genealogy Maps - An aggregator site with links to standard atlases (Mike Ludeman)

Census Archives (non commercial)

PhilaMercury cover census : A good database which is now suitable for foreign covers as well as United States. Please contribute! Refine browses by variable criteria and set order functionality, etc  (RCF)

Philapedia : A start for world cover census site, limited sort and search abilities (RCF)

Post Office, Postal Acts and Rate Information

Simple Domestic US Postal rates 1816-1869 : The bare minimum (Steve Walske)

US Postal Acts and Rates : From Frajola site. Searchable PDF files from source documents and rate summaries. Early post road maps. (RCF)

United States Postal Treaties : (David Savadge)

Postmaster finder : (David Savadge)

US Postal Bulletins and PL&Rs, 1798 - 2013 : (James Baird)

Best Google Searches

Google Books : Link is an advanced search for "Post Office" but change search term for desired results. Filters are set for preview available, date order, and 19th century. Set filters as desired. Many useful public records and books are available. (RCF)

Image Search : Link is search for James Smillie with filter set for large size images only which helps reduce the number of hits. Typically there are way too many results (RCF)

Patent Search : (from Mike Ellingson) For my machine and patent cancel works, an example would be (one of Leavitt's patents). You can also find novelties such as this. Freeform searches on 'letter stamping machine', 'canceling machine', 'handstamp', 'stamp perforating', 'envelope maker', etc yield hours of fun."A North Dakota Patent cancel"  article by Mike E based on search info.

Whaling Ships : (Ron Cipolla)

Image Searches

New York Public Library Digital Images : Link is search for James Smillie images as an example. (RCF)

University of Wyoming digital collections : great photos of early forts, (Ken Stach)

University of Wisconsin repository of river steamboat photographs : A great site! (Ken Stach)

History Research

City Directories: Searchable PDF files of 44 City Directories from 14 different cities (1785/1867)  now on this site. Many more available online using google search. Most contain valuable postal history information, mail schedules and stage routes. Contributed by Steven Roth.

Rocky Mountain Online Archive : A central search engine for the archives of a couple dozen western institutions. You have to manipulate many different style search engines to retrieve documents. (Leven Parker)

Steamboats (River Boat Daves) : Detailed history of various river steamboats, with listing by boat name, company name, captains (Ken Stach)

Official Records of the War of Rebellion : (Steve Walske)

Official Records of the Civil War Navies : (Steve Walske)

US Statutes at Large : (Steve Walske)

CSA Railroads and Ships : (Steve Walske)

The Ships List : Ship descriptions & some arrival dates (David Savadge)

Famous Americans : part of (Gordon Eubanks)

California Online Archive : (RCF)

City Directories : A list of directories (David D'Alessandris)

Philadelphia Directory : (David D'Alessandris)

Archive : The collection is international and includes historical text and images. A good Google book directory, Butterfield contract link, for example. (Richard Coffey)

Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS) : Not complete yet for all listed in print volumes. Good CSA. See also Hazegray : (Steve Pacetti)

Gale Digital Collections : (Martin Hosselmann)

Adam Matthew Collection : Period documents strong in 1700 to 1900 era (Martin Hosselmann)

US / Canada Government Source Documents

A Century of Lawmaking : U.S. government documents. Somewhat hard to use but has text and image files of documents. (RCF)

US Statutes : (Gordon Eubanks)

Library and Archives Canada - Post Offices and Postmasters : Lists all the Post Offices in Canada from at least 1867 to 1981 with opening/closing dates and name changes (Jane Sodero)

G.P.U. Treaty of 1874 : I suppose some fishing around would produce other relevant treaties (Fred Gregory)

Hawaii Treaties : Has various Hawaiian treaties, ignore politics. Also, Hawaii Civil Code has some treaties (Fred Gregory)


Perpetual calendar : Easiest I have found. Year at a glance. (RCF)

Word Orgins : Probably useless but interesting (Gordon Eubanks)

Post Office in Paradise : Hawaii stamps and postal history (Fred Gregory)

Connecticut Postal History (Gordon Eubanks)

New York Postal History : Empire States Society (Gordon Eubanks)

David D'allesandris site : Lanman Kemp Correspondence, etc (Gordon Eubanks)

National Postal Museum : (Gordon Eubanks)

EXPONET : An exhibit archive site with hundreds of exhibits. Link is direct to postal history section. (Mike Ludeman)

Stage Coach Lines of the American West : (Steve Pacetti)

Making of America - Cornell University : (Steve Pacetti)

Non Profit Philatelic Organization Sites With Resources

USPCS Chronicle Search : Classics Society journal search past articles available to members (RCF)

Philatelic Foundation Search Certificate : Has ability to search old certificates (RCF)

Western Cover Society Library : Articles available. Membership required for full access to complete archive of articles (RCF)

Postal Museum State Postal History Register : (Steve Pacetti) For one of the better links from the site, see North Carolina Postal History Society Postmark Catalog : (Stefan Jaronski)

This project was suggested at the Taos Philatelic Rendezvous in 2011 and it is hoped that new contributions can be added frequently. Please advise dead links when found.

Richard Frajola (May 2019)