The Microfilm Mail (airgraph and V-mail) Exhibtion at Driwancybermuseum Blog

Driwancybermuseum’s Blog

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Showcase :

The Microfilming Of Mail During WW II  Collections Exhibition

Frame One:

Introductions

1.The microfilming of Mail introduced in the France,Prussian war ,and also in another countries like British  & USA, was revived in Worl War II.

2.History of microfiolming mail

Microfilm first saw military use during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870–71. During the Siege of Paris, the only way for the provincial government in Tours to communicate with Paris was by pigeon post. As the pigeons could not carry paper dispatches, the Tours government turned to microfilm. Using a microphotography unit evacuated from Paris before the siege, clerks in Tours photographed paper dispatches and compressed them to microfilm, which were carried by homing pigeons into Paris and projected by magic lantern while clerks copied the dispatches onto paper.[9]

Additionally, the US Victory Mail, and the British “Airgraph” system it was based on, were used for delivering mail between those at home and troops serving overseas during World War II. The systems worked by photographing large amounts of censored mail reduced to thumb-nail size onto reels of microfilm, which weighed much less than the originals would have. The film reels were shipped by priority air freight to and from the home fronts, sent to their prescribed destinations for enlarging at receiving stations near the recipients, and printed out on lightweight photo paper. These facsimiles of the letter-sheets were reproduced about one-quarter the original size and the miniature mails were then delivered to the addressee. Use of these microfilm systems saved significant volumes of cargo capacity needed for vital war supplies. An additional benefit was that the small, light weight reels of microfilm were almost always transported by air, and as such were much quicker than any surface mail services.

3. The Photostat made from the microfilm and the spesific window enveloped(Airgraph) envelope in which the message was formarded to the adress ,it was sent from IBOD government or military field  headquater to the field commander,soldier or to their family.

4. Type of Microfilming Mail

Microfilm Models: Precursors of V-Mail

V-Mail microfilm technology was a product of years of discovery and experimentation. Soon after the advent of photography in the mid 1830s, John Benjamin (J.B.) Dancer pioneered the first microphotographs by mounting images on microscope slides. The process, refined through the years with the advancement of technology and microphotography, was capable of shrinking regular documents down to a smaller size which allowed for easy transportation and cataloging. Tiny microfilmed messages were lightweight, and were processed quickly. Because of these characteristics, microphotography became a good candidate for a partnership with wartime mail as early as the 1870s.

The French Pigeon Post

In July 1870 the longtime border disputes between France and its rival Prussia erupted into the Franco-Prussian War. In September of 1871 the conflict escalated and the Prussian army’s siege of the capital effectively cut off the mail between Paris and its surrounding cities. Under these strained conditions, members of the pigeon fanciers’ society L’Esperance (“Hope”) volunteered carrier pigeons to deliver the mail. Initially, government and postal officials were skeptical of the small birds. Nevertheless, as the siege dragged on, it was apparent that a way to get the mail through the blockade was through the air.

The tiny avian messengers did not fly into Paris directly but rather were carried to the city limits by hot air balloon. Balloons seen over Paris were vulnerable to Prussian gunfire and it was safer to launch the balloons with their winged passengers outside of the city boundaries.

Several stations were set up throughout the surrounding French countryside to house the birds and their handlers. These sites also served as relay stations to help the balloons maintain communication with each other. Once a balloon was within safe range of the city, the handler would release the pigeon and the balloon would fly back to safety.

The birds had the difficult task of maneuvering around the perils of the war-torn city. The winged messengers carried the microphotographed letters inside small, quill containers. The successfully delivered microfilm was enlarged for transcription and reading.

The British Airgraph Service

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