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Catalog Data

Emma Thornton, American  Search this
metal; paint; paper (cardboard); tape
Height x Width x Depth: 75 x 82 x 33 in. (190.5 x 208.28 x 83.82 cm) Other (sorting unit): 37.5cm (14 3/4in.) Weight: 515 lb. Height x Width x Depth (pallet--height only for pallet, not object): 26 x 88 x 40 in. (66.04 x 223.52 x 101.6 cm)
Structures & Furnishings
New York
September 11, 2001
The mail sorting unit is a staple in every US post office. This unit simply consists of a table with a mail sorting wing hinged to its proper left side and an attached sorting case with a light fixture to illuminate the shelves. Six cardboard shelves have been added to provide slots for additional customers.
But this unit has a somber story. It was last used by U.S. Postal Service employee, Emma Thornton, of the Church Street Station Post Office, New York, New York, on September 11, 2001. She sorted mail for various routes inside the World Trade Center -- some stops included Cantor Fitzgerald, Fred Alger, and Nishi Nippon Bank. The unit's number, 24D-2, is Emma's route assignment designation.
On the morning of September 11, 2001, the letter carriers whose daily rounds were the World Trade Center buildings were hard at work in the Church Street Post Office building. Because they were preparing their mail deliveries for the day when the airplane struck the first tower, none of these employees were in the buildings when they were hit.
Emma is one of the hundreds of thousands of letter carriers who have brought us our mail day after day. Her connection to her patrons is not unusual, it is the events surrounding the connection that have brought her sorting desk to the National Postal Museum. Emma’s recollections of working at the Church Street post office over the past decades are little gems of history. As she has said, she watched the towers go up in the 1970s and watched them come down that dreadful September day.
Associated Event:
9/11/2001: Destruction of World Trade Center, New York City  Search this
Contemporary (1990-present)  Search this
Mail Processing  Search this
Object number:
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National Postal Museum Collection
Data Source:
National Postal Museum