Thursday, December 20, 2012

U.S. Post Office Carriers With Bicycles (1903)

Another short video (silent film) taken from a paper roll that was printed for copyright deposit that is part of the America at work collection in American Memory.

TITLE - Carriers leaving building, U.S.P.O. [Version 2]

CREATED/PUBLISHED - United States : American Mutoscope & Biograph Company, 1903.

SUMMARY - Male letter carriers of the U.S. Post Office are the subject of this series on the Postal Department. The camera was placed to show a large number of uniformed mail carriers as they leave the main post office to deliver letters. They can be seen walking down the steps of the building toward the camera position. Some mount bicycles and ride away, while others just walk. There are also some women in the film.

NOTES - Copyright: American Mutoscope & Biograph Company; 22Aug03; H34973.
Cameraman, A. E. Weed.
Cameraman credit from Niver's, Early motion pictures, p. 48.
Filmed August 5, 1903 in Washington, D.C.
Source used: Niver, Kemp R., Early motion pictures, 1985.
Received: 2/2000 from LC lab; ref prints and dupe neg; preservation; Paper Print Collection.

USPO cyclists image from video
Screen grab from video showing several mail carriers with bicycles

If one believes the summary, some of the mail carriers are off to deliver mail on bicycle - perhaps one of them is shown later in this video (with his "flying dismount"). In the 1890s bicycles were very expensive relative to workers' incomes - by 1903 the prices had fallen quite a bit but securing them somehow would still seem useful, but this video and photos I see rarely suggest anyone locked their bikes up in public. Bikes are visible, stacked against one another leaning against a wall - if they were riding every day, one would expect something a little better than that.

The summary states, "there are also some women in the film" - yes, but the two I notice are at the very end and are not letter carriers (and don't get on bicycles, either, unlike the Parke Davis employees video that shows many women riding).

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