Working Boys' Clothing: Messenger Boys

Figure 1.--Here we see an American messenger boy from Toledo, Ohio. The boy's name was Frank, but we do not have his family name. The portrait was prbably taken in the late 1880s or early 90s. I assume he was a Western Union messenger boy, but am not sure. Notice the Napoleonic pose. He's holding the delivery book for collecting signatures in his left hand.

The telegraph was fst between offices, but had a basic weakness. That was how to get the message to the addressee. Here a new job was created, the telegraph messenger. The job was commonly filled by boys. I am not sure why this was. Presumably because they were willing to work for low wages and tips. As the telegrph and photography appeared at about the same time, there is a good photographic record of telegraph messenger boys. Early telegraph boys seem to have been uniformed. We see British telegraphic messenger boys in the 1870s on the previous page. Here we see an Amerian messenger boy, probnly in the lat 1880s or early 90s (figure 1). Note his badge which we re guessing would have had a number on it. Messenger boys were very important before telephones were commonplace. And long-distance telephone calls were very expensive. Thus telegrams were the common way of communicating between cities. This continued until the 1950s. We have begun to develop some country information. So far, however, we only have an American page.


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Created: 4:19 AM 8/5/2010
Last updated: 4:19 AM 8/5/2010