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The list: 6 facts about women letter carriers

Jeannette Lea collects mail in December 1944. She was the first woman letter carrier in Chicago since World War I. Image: National Postal Museum

November marks the 100th anniversary of women letter carriers in cities. Here are six facts about their contributions to mail delivery.

1. Women began delivering mail in cities during World War I. Women had been rural carriers since at least 1899, but they didn’t deliver in urban areas until the nation experienced wartime workforce shortages.

2. Washington, DC, was the first city with women letter carriers. On Nov. 6, 1917, Permelia Campbell and Nellie McGrath became the first known women appointed as city letter carriers.

3. Other cities soon followed. In 1917 and 1918, dozens of women delivered mail in Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Detroit and Portland, OR. After the war, most gave up their positions to returning veterans.

4. World War II brought more women carriers. Women worked as city letter carriers again during World War II, but most left or were let go after the war.

5. Changes occurred in 1962. After President John F. Kennedy ordered federal employment appointments be made “without regard to sex,” the number of women letter carriers in cities grew from 104 in 1960 to 3,500 eight years later.

6. Women carriers are still going strong. Today, more than 67,000 women deliver mail in cities across the nation.

The Postal People page has more information about women in the USPS workforce. Got ideas for future editions of “The list”? Email them to

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