Some History of Sustainability with UPS
1936 UPS Electric Package Cars

As the UPS Archivist, I spend a lot of time researching documents that reveal our history and the stories of our people.

So in my search through the UPS Archives – while looking for something else I might add – I came across this document from 1933 asking for the funds for three new “Gould Batteries for two ton Walker Electric Trucks.”  These new batteries were to replace three “very old and almost useless” batteries in package cars that were serving in New York City at the time.

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Pictures From the Archives: Santa and UPS Through the Years

In my role as UPS Archivist and Historian, a majority of my time is spent doing research into the company’s past. While looking for important facts and figures I often see trends or themes that develop over time. One fun seasonal theme is the connection between UPS and Santa Claus, which seem to go together like cookies and milk.

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Santa’s Helpers Wear Brown

I have found stories in the UPS Archives that go back to the 1920s of drivers being asked by children if they delivered for Santa Claus in addition to the local department stores. Often, the drivers would confess to the hopeful child that, yes, they do help Jolly Ol’ St. Nick make his deliveries. 

The challenge for these drivers – and to some extent for the drivers today – is to get these deliveries past any children who are at home and safely in the hands of the parent. A December 1929 article in UPS’s employee publication, the Big Idea, addressed this challenge of maintaining the secrecy of these important deliveries – especially when in those days, tricycles and dollhouses came assembled without a cardboard box to conceal them. 

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Brown’s Legacy of Being Green

1936 UPS Electric Package CarsBeginning in the 1930s, UPS used electric package cars on the streets of New York City. Much like the company’s efforts today that seek to minimize impact on the environment, use of these vehicles made a lot of business sense in congested Manhattan. They traveled no more than 20 mph, but they didn’t need to go faster. They could operate in heavy traffic economically since they were battery powered and with little wear and tear. But they also didn’t contribute to the city’s pollution. So it was a shared bottom line – good for UPS, and good for the environment. The electric package cars were still in use in Manhattan in the early 1960s. 

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You May Have Heard of Rosie the Riveter, but Have You Heard of Brown Betty?

Brown Betties, Milwaukee, WI, 1944March is Women’s History month and I want to share some of UPS’s little-known women’s history.  UPS has employed women since the early days of the company.  They tended to be secretaries, telephone operators, billing recorders, stenographers and general office workers.  But by October 1942 – 10 months after the United States’ entrance into World War II and with men joining the armed forces by the thousands daily – UPS began to hire women to work in the operations side of the company. 

Seattle, Wash., the city that saw the birth of UPS, had the first facility to employ women in package operations positions.  By December 1942 women worked in the operations of Chicago, Los Angeles, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco.  The women still worked behind the scenes, in jobs such as sorting, tracing, routing, and loading of packages.  These women UPSers quickly became known throughout the company as “Brown Betties.” Read More »


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