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