V-Mail and World War II
On a recent visit to NYC, we did what any paper-loving tourists would do: visit the post office. Okay, so it wasn't really a planned stop. But when we walked past the enormous 8-acre James Farley Post Office, the main branch for New York, I had to peek inside.
There we found the half-forgotten, postage stamp-sized Museum of Postal History. It is rich with artifacts from our nation's storied achievements in quickly and efficiently getting correspondence from one coast to the other and everywhere in between.
I was taken with many things – the letter carrier equipment, tools of the trade, etc – but I fell in love with this beautiful V-Mail tube:
I had to learn more.
V-Mail (short for Victory Mail) was an ingenious mail system to accommodate the huge volume of communication with soldiers stationed abroad during the second World War. To save shipping space for war materials, all V-Mail correspondence was reviewed by military sensors, photographed and transposed onto microfilm, which was then blown up to readable size once it reached its destination.
It also happened to be quite fetching to look at.