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How big was a 1910 Riverside mail delivery? Would you believe 10 tons?

Joseph Daniels, Riverside city librarian from 1910 to 1921, was, from all accounts, a go-getter of the first order.
Within a short time of taking the librarian position, he made a move that gave Riverside a reference collection of extraordinary proportions. Daniels knew that the vast number of reports produced by Congress would be a reference treasure trove, useful to everyone from high school students to those in the greater Riverside area who made their living in agriculture.
However, there were only two official depositories of federal government documents in Southern California in 1910. They were in San Diego and Los Angeles. Both places were too far away to be of much use to the residents of Riverside.
However, Daniels was nothing if not persuasive.
He convinced August Donath, federal superintendent of documents, to send all the reports of Congress, beginning with the 15th congress, which convened Dec. 1, 1817, to what was then the most recent session of Congress, the 67th. All of this was free to the Riverside library, except for the cost of cataloging, shelving and storing the volumes of reports.
Well, there was one additional cost, which concerns the other part of this story.
Back in 1910, the biggest mover of material in the United States was the United States Postal Service. It was to their care that the federal superintendent of documents entrusted the records of 52 sessions of Congress, bound in leather covered volumes and headed for Riverside.
The large amount of material was broken down into at least three shipments, all arriving by train in Riverside. The first shipment, which was the largest, arrived on Monday, Aug. 8, 1910. That one mail delivery alone consisted of nearly 2,000 volumes of documents, weighing almost four tons, according to a small article in the Riverside Enterprise.
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Normally, the postal service would have taken the mail delivery to its office and then delivered the material to its intended recipient. However, the Riverside post office didn’t have enough space to receive the library delivery. Because of that, the post office took the unusual step of allowing the library to take the volumes straight from the train station to the library, skipping the post office all together. However, the library had to pay for the draying service to get the volumes from the train station to the library.
Riverside newspapers reported that, in total, the library received an estimated 10 tons of “mail.” The first delivery alone was reported to be, by far, the largest mail delivery in the history of Riverside to that point, and may even today still take the record for biggest postal service delivery in Riverside.
If you have an idea for a future Back in the Day column about a local historic person, place or event, contact Steve Lech and Kim Jarrell Johnson at .

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