Postal History Symposium Keynote Speaker Selected

Dr. David HochfelderDr. David Hochfelder, assistant professor of history at SUNY-Albany will be the keynote speaker at How Commerce and Industry Shaped the Mails, the sixth annual Postal History Symposium, which will be September 16-18, 2011 at the Match Factory in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. After two degrees in electrical engineering from Northwestern University, David earned a Ph.D. in history at Case Western Reserve University. His research interests include the history of technology and business history; he is particularly interested in the relationship between technological innovation and social change. He was the assistant editor for two volumes of The Papers of Thomas A. Edison; David’s book The Telegraph in America: A History, 1832-1940 will be released by Johns Hopkins University Press in the spring.

The American Philatelic Research Library, the American Philatelic Society, and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum jointly produce the Symposia, which have been held annually since 2006. The format of the 2011 symposium will be similar to that of the Post Office Reform symposium in 2009, with the paper presentations distributed across three days allowing ample time between sessions for viewing the 150 frames of invited stamp and postal history exhibits, purchasing stamps, covers, and ephemera from the philatelic dealers, reading in the APRL, and conversing with fellow attendees. Hochfelder’s keynote address will be given at the banquet on Friday night. On Saturday evening, the United States Stamp Society, a Symposium co-sponsor for 2011, will host a banquet celebrating their 85th anniversary.

While the symposium will focus primarily on the United States, papers that examine or contrast the relationship between post office and business interests in other countries are welcome as well. The Call for Papers was distributed at the fifth symposium at the end of September; some proposals have already been received. The deadline for submitting proposals is May 1, 2011 and the selected papers will be announced shortly afterwards.

Moroney Prize Deadline

City Carrier, circa 1908Each year the United States Postal Service presents two cash prizes for the best historical writing about the American post office. These are the Rita Lloyd Moroney Awards – $2000 presented to a faculty member, independent scholar, or public historian for a  journal article, book chapter, or book; and $1000 to an undergraduate or graduate student for an journal article, book chapter, or conference paper.

Any topic in the history of the United States postal system from the colonial era to the present is eligible for consideration. Though submissions must be historical in character, they can draw on the methods of other disciplines such as geography, cultural studies, literature, communications, or economics. Comparative or international historical studies are eligible if the United States postal system is central to the discussion. The selections are made by an independent panel of academic scholars, chaired by Dr. Richard Kielbowicz at the University of Washington. Submissions to be considered for the 2011 prizes must be postmarked by December 1, 2010. Winners will be announced in April 2011.

The awards were established in 2006 to honor Rita Lloyd Moroney, who began conducting historical research for the Postmaster General in 1962 and served as Historian of the U.S. Postal Service from 1973 to 1991. To date, eight prizes have been awarded.

Military Postal History

American Library Association postcard expressing Christmas greetings from Siberia during WWI

Veterans Day seems like an appropriate occasion to acknowledge the ongoing contributions to the knowledge of military postal history by the Military Postal History Society. According to the Society’s website, the organization was originally called the War Cover Club and the emphasis was on the postal history of World War I. That emphasis has greatly expanded and now includes any interest in the mail sent to and from soldiers, sailors, and airmen in any military conflict. One of my interests in collecting library related mail which I call postal librariana is the role of the American Library Association during World War I. The publications of the Military Postal History Society and its predecessor the War Cover Club have been very helpful in my research in this area. Currently available publications of the Society are listed on their website. The Society’s website  includes an online index to the Military Postal History Bulletin and its predecessors. Copies of articles in previous Bulletins are available for a price from the Society. The American Philatelic Research Library and other philatelic libraries also have copies of their publications and Bulletins.

Philatelic Exhibiting Resources

The Philatelic ExhibitorOne of my greatest enjoyments as a philatelist is creating exhibits of portions of my collection of postal librariana and displaying them at stamp shows. Philatelic exhibiting can be a scary undertaking and I want to mention some resources that helped me make the transition from scary to enjoyable. I joined the American Association of Philatelic Exhibitors (AAPE) long before I was brave enough to enter my first exhibit in a stamp show. The AAPE’s quarterly journal The Philatelic Exhibitor (TPE) has proved to be an invaluable tool. Not only does it provide many great tips on improving exhibits, it makes you feel part of this specialized philatelic community.  Although you have to be a member of AAPE to get current issues of TPE, the AAPE has very generously digitized all issues of TPE over five years old and placed them on their website. In addition, the tables of contents of the issues for the last five years are provided. The AAPE website includes a wealth of other valuable information for exhibitors. One section includes digital copies of award winning philatelic exhibits.

The American Philatelic Society oversees national level stamp show competitions and its Committee on the Accreditation of National Exhibitions & Judges (CANEJ) has developed very useful information to assist both judges and exhibitors. The most important information provided is in the APS Manual of Philatelic Judging, 6th Edition which is available for download. Although this edition was first published in 2009, it has been revised as of November 3, 2010.

The American Philatelic Research Library encourages exhibitors to place copies of their exhibits at the APRL.  These are in both printed and digital formats and are included in the APRL’s online catalog. The APRL would like to work with the philatelic exhibiting community to make more philatelic exhibits available online.

Portugal 2010 Literature Awards

Portugal 2010 LogoOf the more than 150 philatelic literature entries at the international exhibition in Lisbon last month, only 3 books received Large Gold medals. This medal level is much harder to achieve with a book than a stamp or postal history exhibit. The Large Gold winners were Claude Delbeke, of Belgium, for Belgium Maritime Mail; Robert Odenweller, from New Jersey, for Postage Stamps of New Zealand: 1855-1873; and Michele Chauvet, of France, for Introduction to Postal History from 1848 to 1878. Bob Odenweller’s book also received a special prize for the depth of his study, which included many new discoveries about the Chalon Head issues of New Zealand. The book is still available from Leonard Hartmann.

The full literature Palmares is best downloaded from the blog Rainbow Stamp Club posted by Jeevan Jyoti in India.

Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library Publishes New Book

Mexico's Denver Printing of 1914The Rocky Mountain Philatelic Library in Denver, Colorado has announced the publication of  Mexico’s Denver Printing of 1914 by Ron Mitchell. The book is about the postage and revenue stamps for Mexico’s Provisional Constitutionalist Government which were printed in Denver. The November-December issue of Scribblings, RMPL’s newsletter, indicates that the book is the result of a specialized study by Mitchell which started in 1974.  According to the announcement, “The book is an excellent resource, not only for the Denver Eagles, but for the philately of the 1914-1916 Mexican Revolution.” It includes censuses for both the revenues used as postage and the Denver Eagles postage stamps.  The book is in full color and includes more than 400 illustrations. Included with the book is a DVD which includes digital images of all the illustrations. The price for the book is $50 postpaid to addresses in the United States. To obtain a copy send a check made out to “RMPL” to RMPL Mexico Book, 2038 Pontiac Way, Denver, CO 80224.  This is the second book published by the RMPL.  In 2008 it published Camp Genter, and it has plans for other publications in the future.

Need a Holiday Gift?

Arctic FoxAs we near the holiday season, you may find yourself wanting to purchase a gift for a child, grandchild, or other youngster to encourage a budding collector or just plant a seed that might blossom in the future. One possibility is the book, Wild About Mammals, by Cody Lee. Her lifelong interest in animals took a new turn when she inherited a large international stamp collection. The book, completely illustrated with stamps, provides basic information about more than 160 mammals. For collectors, the appendix gives the Scott Catalogue numbers for each stamp in the book. The book was published as a print-on-demand title and is available from AuthorHouse.

Digital Exhibit of Arizona Postal History

1938 Cover in the Vail, Arizona Digital Exhibit
1938 Cover in the Vail, Arizona Digital Exhibit

The Slusser Memorial Philatelic Library of the Postal History Foundation in Tucson, Arizona is setting an excellent example for how postal history can be effectively incorporated into the broader history of our communities and our states. The Library is a partner with the Vail Preservation Society in a new online exhibit/collection entitled “Between the Tracks: The Story of the Old Vail Post Office”. This collaborative effort involved merging photographic items in the Vail Preservation Society with postal history items in the collection of the Slusser Library. The exhibit is part of the Arizona Memory Project which already includes three other collections from the Slusser Library. The Slusser Library is also working on collaborative exhibits about the Arizona post offices in Oracle and Jerome. The Vail, Oracle, and Jerome post office exhibits are being funded with a federal Library Services and Technology Act grant through the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records. The grant is called “Centennial Celebration of Arizona Post Offices” and the goal of this project is to preserve the history of the three post offices in preparation for the state’s Centennial. The postal history artifacts from the Slusser Library which are included in the project are from Slusser’s Arizona Postal Document Collection 1884-1949 which is part of Arizona Archives Online. The efforts of Charlotte Cushman, Slusser Library Librarian/Archivist, and the other folks at the Postal History Foundation to reach out to other cultural institutions to cooperate in promoting local and state history is noteworthy.

Postal History Lecture – November 6, 2010

There's Alway's Work at the Post OfficeWhen historian Philip F. Rubio began work in the Denver Bulk Mail Center in 1980 he was acutely aware that his pay and benefits had been won a decade earlier in the Great Postal Wildcat Strike of 1970. After 20 years in the Postal Service, mostly as a letter carrier, he left to complete a Ph.D. in history at Duke University. Although originally motivated by a desire to tell the stories of the men and women whom he worked beside for two decades, Rubio combined his insider’s perspective with oral histories and extensive archival research to produce a groundbreaking labor history of the Post Office in the 20th century, There’s Always Work at the Post Office: African American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice, and Equality. While tracing the history of black employment in the Post Office since Reconstruction, Rubio reveals both the significance of Post Office jobs in the black community as well as the role of black activism “in shaping today’s post office and postal unions.”

Rubio will discuss his book and sign copies at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum (NPM) on Saturday, November 6th, at 1:00 p.m. If you are not able to attend, the lecture will be streamed live and archived on the public events page of the NPM.

To preview his book, use the “View Inside” tab; UNC Press provides access to the table of contents, introduction, chapter 1, and the index on-line. There is also a full text search function for this title. The price, from UNC Press, is typical for academic press titles – $65 hardbound, or $24.95 paperback plus postage.

Civil War Propaganda Reconsidered

Patriotic Envelopes of the Civil WarDuring the Civil War, stationery printers in the North and South produced at least fifteen thousand different pro-Union and two hundred fifty different pro-Confederate patriotic envelope designs. Steven R. Boyd, a long time collector of patriotic envelopes and Professor of History at University of Texas – San Antonio, provides a fresh perspective on them in his new book, Patriotic Envelopes of the Civil War: The Iconography of Union and Confederate Covers. Although there is already a rich body of philatelic books and articles, Boyd has written the first book-length scholarly analysis of these patriotic envelopes and lettersheets. He explores their imagery and iconography to gain an understanding of what motivated soldiers and civilians to support a war that became far more protracted and destructive than anyone anticipated in 1861. While Northern envelopes typically argue for the importance of preserving the Union and preventing the destruction of United States, Confederate covers, in contrast, usually illustrate a competing vision of an independent republic free from the “tyranny” of the United States. These envelopes also reveal much about changing roles for women and African Americans in America due to the war.  

This book is another example of the growing academic awareness of stamps and covers as appropriate primary sources for scholarly study. Boyd previewed some of the material from his book at the Fifth Postal History Symposium in September.

The 192-page hard bound book, with 181 color illustrations, is available from LSU Press for $36.95 plus shipping, but if you order online before the end of the year with the code 04ANNIVER you can take 35% off the list price.