Prepared by Elisabeth Lindsay.
Snail mail is a tongue-in-cheek, colloquial term for mail sent via postal service, as opposed to e-mail sent over computer networks. The analogy, of course, refers to the comparatively slow delivery times of regular mail versus electronic mail. Although the term was not coined by genealogists, they certainly may share the sentiment.
In the past, regular mail was the only option available to genealogists, requiring a degree of patience. In today's digital age, many genealogists have become accustomed to conducting their correspondence via e-mail and requesting information online. When an individual or repository accepts submissions and requests only through regular mail, it can be disappointing and "snail mail" viewed as more than a slight inconvenience.