Washington DC History Resources

Matthew B. Gilmore

What Once Was: Pneumatic tubes: technological innovation and politics in Shepherd-era Washington DC — Resources

References and Resources

“New system of transportation by means of hollow spheres, carrying their loads inside and moving in pneumatic tubes.”

A BILL Relating to the construction of a pneumatic tube from the Government Printing Office to the Capitol. May 6, 1872.

AN ACT Making appropriations for sundry civil expenses of the Government for the fiscal year ending June thirtieth, eighteen hundred and seventy-three, and for other purposes. May 24, 1872

Act to permit the construction and use of certain pipe lines for pneumatic tube transmission in the District of Columbia February 22, 1944 Public Law 2841

Sandra Lach Arlinghaus. Down the mail tubes: the pressured postal era, 1853-1954. Institute of Mathematical Geography, Monograph 2, July 1985.

Jason Farman. “Invisible and Instantaneous: Geographies of Media Infrastructure from Pneumatic Tubes to Fiber Optics.” Media Theory Vol. 2 | No. 1 | 134-154, 2017.

John Litten. “Mail tubes: the modern communications system of the nineteenth century.” https://pneumatic.tube (“online or virtual museum. Here you will find technical, historical and comical information about the past, the present and the possible future of the pneumatic tube system”)

Hearings Before the Commission to Investigate the Pneumatic -Tube Postal System. December 2, 3, 9, And 179 1912, And January 8, 25, And.29, 1913. Washington, Government Printing Office, 1913.

www.eoht.info/page/Albert+Brisbane Albert Brisbane – Hmolpedia

Charles A. Madison. “Albert Brisbane: Social Dreamer.” The American Scholar, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Summer 1943), pp. 284-296. URL: https://www.jstor.org/stable/41204597

The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion: The Pneumatic Rolling-Sphere Carrier Delusion – Third Article – October 7, 2007. https://cablecarguy.blogspot.com/2007/10/pneumatic-rolling-sphere-carrier.html?m=0

Letter 48. Albert Brisbane, Washington, to Victor Considérant, December 29, 1872, 4 pages. Describes pneumatic tube extending from Capitol to Government Printing Office; urges Considérant to have an article on his invention published in la Science Sociale. Thinks Americans would subscribe to a monthly journal. In Collection: C233 Archives Sociétaire, 1832-1882. 208 letters on 2 rolls of microfilm


This collection is available at The State Historical Society of Missouri. If you would like more information, please contact us at shsresearch@umsystem.edu.


Selected letters from the Archives Sociétaire, housed at the Archives Nationales, Paris, France. The Archives Sociétaire are the records of the followers of Charles Fourier. Included is correspondence of Victor Considérant, founder of the Fourierist colony at Réunion, Texas, and Albert Brisbane, Fourierism’s foremost advocate in the United States.

[not available to be consulted]

“We have heard nothing lately of the Brisbane pneumatic tube in Washington which is to suck and blow “copy” and “proof” and small packages generally between the Government printing office and other Government offices.” Daily Cleveland Herald (Cleveland, Ohio, Friday, May 01, 1874; Issue 104.

“A Pneumatic Tube.” From “Washington Republican.” Daily Evening Bulletin (San Francisco, California, Friday, September 20, 1872; Issue 142.

“MR. ALBERT BRISBANE, a resident of Irvington, N. J., succeeded in getting an appropriation of $15,000 from Congress for the purpose of laying a pneumatic tube between the Capital at Washington and the government printing office, a distance of half a mile.” Milwaukee Weekly Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Tuesday, August 20, 1872; Issue 34.

“Through by Daylight.” The Milwaukee Sentinel (Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Monday, April 22, 1872; Issue 94. [about New York/New Orleans proposal]

Annals of The Twenty-Ninth Century; Or, The Autobiography of The Tenth World-President. IN THREE VOLUMES. VOL. I. London: Samuel Tinsley, 1874. [Fictional depiction of pneumatic-technology-enabled life in the 2800s]

The Pneumatic Mail Tubes: New York’s Hidden Highway and Its Development. An Historical Perspective-It was not a Pipe Dream! By Robert A. Cohen Copyright © August 1999

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