Scope and Content of Collection
Title: Roseville Postmaster William R. Stephens, and the Railway Mail Service Chief Clerk John J. Burke
Collection Number: MS 698
Stephens, William R.
Burke, John J.
Extent: 1 half-box
California State Railroad Museum Library and Archives
Sacramento, California 95814
Abstract: This collection consists primarily of correspondence between William R. Stephens, the Roseville postmaster of the United States
Post Office and John J. Burke, Chief Clerk of Railway Mail Service District No. 8, from 1922 to 1934.
Language of Material: English
This collection is open for research at our off-site storage facility with one week's notice. Contact Library & Archives
staff to arrange for access.
Copyright has not been assigned to the California State Railroad Museum. All requests for permission to publish or quote from
manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the CSRM
as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must
also be obtained by the reader.
Roseville Postmaster William R. Stephens, and the Railway Mail Service Chief Clerk John J. Burke. California State Railroad
Museum Library and Archives
Gift of Lawrence Dietz, 2008
The Railway Mail Service (RMS), a Department of the United States Post Office, and its successor the Postal Transportation
Service (PTS), carried most of the mail in the United States from the 1890s until the 1960s.
Established in 1869, the Railway Mail Service provided for the movement of U.S. mail by train. Highly trained RMS postal
clerks staffed the Railway Post Office (RPO), a special car on a passenger train. Mail sorted en route, received a cancellation
just as if it had been mailed at a local post office. On October 1, 1948, the Railway Mail Service was renamed the Postal
Transportation Service. The last railway post office car operated between New York and Washington, D.C. on June 30, 1977.
In 1869 the RMS was organized into six divisions, under a single general superintendent. By the 1920s, there were fifteen
divisions. Each division was headed by a Chief Clerk, who was responsible for ensuring that all mail originating from or
traveling on a RPO car was delivered in a timely manner. RMS postal clerks were under the Chief Clerk's jurisdiction. The
Chief Clerk also worked with the postmasters, employees of the U.S. Post Office, at the post offices in his division.
Scope and Content of Collection
This collection consists primarily of correspondence between William R. Stephens, the Roseville postmaster of the United States
Post Office and John J. Burke, Chief Clerk of Railway Mail Service District No. 8, from 1922 to 1934. There are also reports
about temporary workers, notices to the postmaster from the United States Post Office, and handwritten notes about irregular
Subjects include complaints about improper delivery, loss of the mail, its poor condition upon arrival, failure to follow
procedures, irregular pouches, mail service provided by temporary contracters, the timing of delivery and pickup, the use
of contractors to deliver mail, and postal clerks examinations.