New PRO exhibition reveals story behind the postman's uniform (with photos)

     Postal services are closely related to our everyday life. Have you ever thought about how the postman's uniform is designed or how its design has evolved over time? What are the interesting stories that lie behind its evolution?

     Presented by the Public Records Office (PRO) of the Government Records Service (GRS), the exhibition "Behind the Postman Uniform" opens tomorrow (December 18) at the Exhibition Hall of the Hong Kong Public Records Building, taking you on a retrospective tour of the development of the postman's uniform in the period from the 1950s to 1990s.

     The exhibition traces the development of the postman's uniform by showcasing about 60 exhibits and images that document the exchange of ideas on the design and manufacture of the uniform between the department and its employees. Highlight exhibits include a memorandum on uniform designs by the Postmaster General in the 1970s, a questionnaire for postmen on uniform design, design samples of uniform badges and a sizing form. Other exhibits include button samples forwarded from other government departments (for design reference), a summer uniform shirt for an Assistant Postman, and design sketches of summer and winter uniforms.

     The PRO is the government section designated for preserving the historical records of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government. The Office is committed to appraising and acquiring records and materials of enduring value and making them available for public access. Since its establishment in 1972, the PRO has acquired historical records from more than 130 government agencies including Hongkong Post, which is one of the oldest government departments. In 2009, the PRO acquired from Hongkong Post 11 historical records which document the development of the postman's uniform. Such records enable the public to understand Hong Kong's postal development through a new perspective and to appreciate the diverse and comprehensive nature of historical records.

     Perhaps the term "historical records" may leave an impression that records always comprise paper documents. In reality records are surprisingly diverse, and in this exhibition also uniform shirts, accessories such as gloves and buttons, fabric samples and colourful design sketches.

     The postman's uniform may appear ordinary, but it has a significant bearing on work efficiency and departmental image. An ideal uniform strikes a balance between practicality and the need to promote a departmental image. Before World War II, uniform designs were dominated by the considerations of image and appearance, and the representation of the department. Comfort and practical needs of the wearer were not the main concern in designing the uniform. However, in the post-war years a change in attitude and practice emerged when staff opinions were collected and considered in order to improve the qualities and designs of the uniform.

     To complement the exhibition, the GRS has also specially developed an online Reference Resource Page with an interactive guide to help users understand government historical records. In the "How to read government historical records?" section, the functions and significance of individual parts of a record are introduced and explained. Through this simple and quick introduction, users are able to grasp the basics of reading government records easily, making archive research more fun for the public. In addition, the page also features articles from local and overseas scholars who share their views and experience of reading government historical records in the PRO. The Reference Resource Page can be easily accessed via the GRS website (

     The exhibition will be open to the public from Mondays to Fridays, 9am to 5.45pm. Admission is free.

     PRO is located on 1/F, Hong Kong Public Records Building, 13 Tsui Ping Road, Kwun Tong, Kowloon. For enquiries or group visits, please contact PRO at 2195 7728.

Ends/Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:46