From the beginning of the General Post Office in 1792, the Department Headquarters designed and distributed standardized forms (The Department called these “”blanks”) for the postmaster to use to report the operation of their post offices. The number of blanks was small, and the process by which postmasters requested replacement blanks was quite informal.
This began to change with the establishment of the Registry System in 1855, which brought the need for a number of new blanks to assist and systematize the procedure by which the registered letters were tracked from the sending post office to their destination. More standardization began in 1879 when the Post Office Department introduced a number of new forms in the format of the postal card, and began to identify them with identifying “Form” numbers. Postmaster were provided with special order forms to use when reordering blanks for their post office, and the ordering process was made more formal to accommodate the great increase in the number of Post Offices.
The Postal Laws and Regulations edition of 1887 was the first to provide the postmaster with a list of the forms that were available. Then in the Official Postal Guide for January 1908, there was published an extensive list of forms and blanks and other supplies that were available for the postmaster to order from the Supply Division. This was shortly followed with the publication of a series of catalogs titled List of Postal Supplies that was produced in three versions: (1) Fourth Class Post Offices (Form A-9), (2) Third Class post offices (Form A-3), and (3) First and Second Class post offices (Form A-7). These continued in publication until the change to the United States Postal Service in 1969.
After 1970, the catalog title was changed to Directives and Forms Catalog, Publication 223, but the function was unchanged. Many of the forms described in these catalogs can be found in the Stamp Smarter Postal Forms database
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