Post Office remnants in a Jar


Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

Smithsonian's National Postal Museum

This jar contains the debris from the March 19, 1931 fire of the Craig, Alaska Post Office. As evidence of the fire, a U.S. Postal Inspector scooped some of the remains and sent them in a jar with his report on the fire.

After 1911, the Smithsonian received several small transfers from the Post Office Department and the "Post Office in a Jar" supposedly was included in one of these transfers, though there is no record supporting that claim. However, it did arrive with a tag identifying it as case 11834-D item 4931 by the Chief Inspector, which was filed January 1, 1932, ten months after the fire took place.

In the mid-1980s the jar was dropped breaking the glass and dispersing the remnants. The debris was quickly swept up and somehow contained until a decision could be made about re-housing them. The curator in charge at the time determined that they should be placed into a new Mason jar, similar to the one that broke; therefore, keeping with its name as a "Post Office in a Jar." Another employee supplied a replacement jar by bringing one from his home. It is unclear whether the lid was re-used or if it was thrown away with the glass shards from the original jar.

Museum ID: 1992.2002.4

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  • Title: Post Office remnants in a Jar
  • Date Created: 1931
  • Physical Dimensions: 18.4 × 9.5 × 9.5 cm
  • Subject Keywords: Alaska, post office
  • External Link: Post Office in a Jar
  • Medium: Glass; metal; iron; rubber; twine; ash