December 17, 2001
Duvall Post Office exhibit shows 'disinfected mail'
The recent concern over the transmission of disease in postal systems is nothing new, according to an exhibit now showing at the Duvall Post Office.
Seven rare pieces of mail from as far back as 1752 are presented illustrating several methods used in times past to "disinfect" letters against diseases such as cholera, typhus and plague.
The exhibit shows how letters coming from areas thought to be infected with disease were often poked with holes or slits before being dipped in chemicals or fumigated with sulphur at border postal stations in Europe.
"By the end of the 1800s, it became clear that these crude procedures were really of little value with the discovery that diseases such as cholera are virtually impossible to contract through letters and instead are spread through polluted drinking water, insects or close, physical contact with infected persons," said Thomas Matthiesen, the exhibit curator.
The little exhibit, located in the main lobby of the Duvall Post Office on N.E. Valley St., will run through Jan. 15.
Note: The Little Postal Museum, a single exhibit frame, has been a feature of the Duvall Post Office for over a decade and at slightly less than three feet square it is probably the smallest "museum" in the state. Exhibits are changed regularly and often show how postal history relates to current events.