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Dear Ms. Maxwell,
Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!
While the National Archives normally does not require proof of death in cases where the subject of the record would be over 100 years old, third-party requests for United States Postal Service Records are handled/answered by the USPS and they apply stricter access policies. USPS's FOIA regulation at 39 CFR 265.3 states: Third-party requests. Where a FOIA request seeks disclosure of records that pertain to a third party, a requester may receive greater access by submitting a written authorization signed by that individual authorizing disclosure of the records to the requester, or by submitting proof that the individual is deceased (e.g., a copy of a death certificate or an obituary). As an exercise of administrative discretion, each component can require a requester to supply a notarized authorization, a declaration, a completed Privacy Waiver as set forth in 39 CFR 266.5(b)(2)(iii), or other additional information if necessary in order to verify that a particular individual has consented to disclosure.
Therefore, if USPS requests a copy of a death certificate, we suggest complying with their request. If your neighbor does not already have a copy, she can request one from Massachusetts's Registry of Vital Records. See their web page Ordering a Birth, Marriage, or Death Certificate.
The USPS’s point of contact for this matter is Jane Eyre, Deputy Chief FOIA Officer. Her telephone number is 202-268-2608 and her email is email@example.com. Your neighbor also may contact the NPRC via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
We hope this information is helpful.
Here is a link that helped me locate information on the Shelly Post Office: https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/1932/
Place "John Lay" in the first and last name data fields and you will see a list of people who fit your description. You will most likely need additional search criteria. I hope this helps your neighbor.