Fantastic finds: post office ball programs

Brigitte Rockett
Friday, 5 March 2021

Staff from the Postmaster-General’s Department could let their hair down at the annual post office ball, complete with live orchestras, entertainment, dancing and politically incorrect jokes.

Printed programs in the National Archives’ collection provide a glimpse of this big night out, which was organised by the Postal Institute, an association for staff of the Postmaster-General’s Department.

Covering the 1959 and 1960 balls in Perth, these colourful programs detail the evening’s entertainments, including ‘modern’ and ‘old time’ orchestras, displays of dancing and gymnastics, and performances from local entertainers and television personalities.

Guests were invited to write in the names of their partners for dances including the Canadian barn dance, Boston two step, and special delivery stomp.

And if you found yourself at a loose end during the evening, the program contained jokes and amusing stories to help pass the time. Many are politically incorrect by today’s standards (‘Three ways to spread the news, telegram, telephone and tell a woman’), but some office humour may still ring true (‘COMMITTEE – A group that keeps minutes and wastes hours’).

With advertisements for radio stations, made-to-measure suits, Hillman motor cars and TAA flights, the programs are a colourful snapshot of life in the mid-20th century.

See the post office ball programs online