Smithsonian Publishes Postal History

Postal History Symposia bookAlthough the title – Smithsonian Contributions to History and Technology, No. 55: The Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposia: select papers, 2006-2009 – is rather ponderous and academic sounding, the latest volume from the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press is a lively collection of essays that examine postal history within the larger contexts of social, political, and economic history. The 16 not previously published essays, by 18 authors, were selected from over 60 papers presented at the first four Postal History Symposia: three from 2006 “What is Postal History?”; a single from 2007 “Further, Farther, Faster: Transportation Technology and the Mail”; four from 2008 “When the Mail Goes to War”; and half the volume from last year’s “Postal Reform” conference at the Match Factory in Bellefonte. Full disclosure – the final essay in volume is mine, “Cheap Postage: A Tool for Social Reform.” Considerable credit goes to Tom Lera, at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum (NPM), for orchestrating and editing this volume.

The 170-page, soft bound, full color volume is available free from the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press – click on the Ordering Link and follow the instructions for sending an e-mail request at the bottom of the page; be sure to request “Contributions to History and Technology, No. 55.” Or, you may download the full text as a pdf file.

The Postal History Symposia are an annual project of the NPM along with the American Philatelic Research Library, and the American Philatelic Society. They were conceived as a venue for bringing together philatelic and academic postal historians, allowing them to interact and share their research. One measure of success is that seven of the 18 authors in this volume are academic or public historians, who do not collect stamps. The next symposia, “Stamps and Mail: Imagery, Icons, & Propaganda” is September 30th and October 1st at the National Postal Museum.

4 thoughts on “Smithsonian Publishes Postal History”

  1. This is an incredibly valuable piece of philatelic literature. Since I did not attend the first three symposia, it is gratifying that the NPM and the Smithsonian have elected to publish this reprise. Tom Lera deserves great credit for making this happen. Significantly, ordering copies is a breeze. I called 202-633-3017. A friendly voice took my order directly (no wading through layers of phone extensions). My free copy arrived two days later. Nice to see my taxes at work so responsively! I’d urge all philatelists (indeed all students of the social sciences) to obtain a copy for their libraries.

  2. Found this review twice in the new blog BUT didnot see the price. Would be helpful to continue to think about the book. T.P.

  3. Just to clarify – this book from the Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press is available for free! Just follow the instructions on their website or call the phone number that Gary supplied to obtain your copy. David

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