In anticipation of the upcoming Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium (December 8 – 9, 2022) to be hosted by the Smithsonian National Postal Museum (NPM) in Washington, DC, we present the second in a series of four parts introducing this year's speakers and their presentations.
This year's symposium will be a hybrid event with the opportunity to attend either in person or via Zoom. However, due to restrictions at the NPM only a limited number of spaces will be available, on a first come first serve basis, for those wishing to attend in person. If you are interested in attending the event in person please contact NPM Research Chair Susan Smith ([email protected]). For those wishing to attend via Zoom, registration can be done through the following link: REGISTER HERE.
In either case, registration is required whether in person or via Zoom. The schedule for the presentations is still in the process of being finalized and will be available on the APS website and also on the NPM website later this autumn.
Here then, alphabetically by author, is the second instalment introducing this year's speakers and their presentations.
“Gathering Vassals Around the Throne:
The Political Economy of Postal Communications in 19th Century Brazil”
Bio: Pérola Goldfeder holds a doctorate in Economic History from the São Paulo University – USP, Brazil. In Fall 2021, she received the Brazilian National Archives Award for the book “Gathering Vassals Around the Throne: The Political Economy of Postal Communications in 19th Century Brazil”. Her current research concerns the late 19th century Brazilian global postal relations in the scope of the Universal Postal Union. She is also lecturer at Ouro Preto Federal University and Minas Gerais State University.
Abstract: “Nothing has His Imperial Majesty so firm in mind as to do away with the distances that isolate Him from his vassals, and even, if possible, to gather them all around His throne”: With these words the Brazilian government justified, in 1841, the adoption of uniform postage as a way of connecting the Brazilian people to their 14 year-old monarch, Don Pedro the Second. This use of its postal institution clearly suggests a governmental effort to embrace the expansion of monarchical authority over territory, market and population – key presumptions to reinforce the State’s monopoly over postal services.
By analyzing regulations and various data documented in Brazilian Ministerial Reports, this session will aim to answer the following questions. How did the postal system contribute to the centralization of power in 19th century Brazil? Was the Brazilian postal system more a vehicle for the dissemination of news, a source of revenue or an instrument of political and administrative control?
"The End of Sunday Mail, 1888-1912"
Rebecca Brenner Graham
Bio: Rebecca Brenner Graham earned her PhD in history from American University in 2021, with a dissertation entitled "When Mail Arrived on Sundays, 1810-1912." She works as a History Teacher at the Madeira School in McLean, Virginia and as an Adjunct Professorial Lecturer at American University. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and other publications.
Abstract: When mail once arrived on Sundays, it was during a period that included the abolition of enslavement, multiple waves of immigration, and the violent expansion of the imperial state across the continent and into Hawaii, among other political and social changes. Sunday mail – perhaps unsurprisingly when considering the necessity of both communicating across distances and organizing the work week into days including sacred rest – found itself entangled at the crossroads of these developments.Sunday mail was deeply controversial by the early nineteenth century and faced constant threats throughout this period.
This session will examine the question as to why the U.S. finally ended Sunday mail delivery in 1912, and what did this change mean for American moral nationalism, political systems, and citizenship. Using postal records from the U.S. National Archives in Washington, DC, this session will present the argument that the end of Sunday mail delivery signified an alliance between Sundayists (i.e. Sunday observers who sought to enforce the Sabbath for the sake of moral nationalism, or to make the U.S. a Christian country) and labor activists, which, in combination with federal fiscal retrenchment, legitimized the concept that there would be one day each week where the post offices would close.
“Politico-philatelic semiosis in Russia’s 2014 Crimea issues"
Bio: A.M. LaVey is a New York-based archivist specialising in eastern Slavic spaces. LaVey serves as the Ukrainian indexer for the American Philatelic Research Library and the librarian for visual culture for The Ukrainian Museum, and is an associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University. Research interests include Belarus, Russia and Ukraine; digital archives and creativity; philatelia; and philatelic items in libraries, archives and museums. Recent publications include "Digital archives and philatelic information: A case study,'' "Philatelic Metadata: A Key to Discovery" and the translation of Marka, Mariia Krystopochuk's story about the power of philately to bring a family together in wartime Ukraine.
Abstract: This session will examine the semiosis of Russia’s philatelic issues following the 2014 Referendum on the Status of Crimea. It will analyze Russian philatelic issues that year, cartographic references on Russian stamps and a stamped card a year after. N addition it will also look at Ukraine’s postal response. This examination will use research derived from the analytic tools of Juri Lotman’s Tartu Moscow semiotic school to understand the meanings behind, significance and importance of using postal products as a method of communication and as a state’s tools of soft power.
Why are these small pieces of paper so important that they have been called weapons of hybrid warfare, refused for postal use and have been criticized by the United Nations? Sources used will include academic journal articles, monographs, philatelic catalogs, unpublished philatelic scholarship, as well as Russian, Ukrainian and United Nations official communications.
“The Reform Postal Systems in the Process of Structuring and Construction of
Imperial States in the 18th Century”
Rocio Moreno Cabanillas
Bio: Rocío Moreno Cabanillas is a Postdoctoral Researcher Margarita Salas at Pablo de Olavide University / University of Seville, Spain. She is an historian of the early modern Spanish Empire, specializing in circulation of information in the Caribbean and Atlantic World. Among her recent research publications is the book Comunicación e imperio. Proyectos y reformas del correo en Cartagena de Indias 1707-1777 (Mail Reform in Cartagena de Indias 1707-1777) in 2022; and her chapter “Postal Networks and Global letters in Cartagena de Indias - The Overseas Mail in the Spanish Empire in the 18th century,” in the book Atlantic Studies: Global Currents in 2021.
Abstract: This session will analyze the measures of postal reform undertaken by the Bourbon dynasty in Spain in the 18th century between Peninsula and Spanish American territories through primary sources in European and American archives, especially Archivo General de Indias. The main research aim has been to try to understand the political and institutional meaning of the emergence of a postal system organized by the Crown and its impact at the local level. The analysis of the postal system records has revealed that the reorganization of the Spanish American post was one of the cornerstones of the reforms undertaken by the Bourbon’s, whose measures demanded improved information channels in order to succeed.
Emphasis will be given to the central role played by postal reform within the framework of the reformist programs pushed forward by the Bourbons. In this regard, the postal system became a veritable agent of change, insofar as it consolidated the political authority of the Spanish Monarchy and paved the way to the implementation of different policies in their territories through the consolidation of official communication channels.
For more information about the 2022 Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium visit either the NPM's Symposia & Lectures page or the APS Postal History Symposium page. Registration for the symposium is required. To attend the 2022 symposium in person contact the NPM's Susan Smith ([email protected]). To attend remotely via Zoom REGISTER HERE.