The American Philatelic Research Library, the American Philatelic Society and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum jointly produce the Postal History Symposium, which has been held since 2006. The symposium provides a forum for philatelists, academic scholars, postal historians, and the interested public to discuss and present research that integrates philately or the history of postal operations into the broader context of world history.

Past Symposia

Papers and Presentations

2022 - "Political Systems, Postal Administrations, and the Mail" - CALL FOR PAPERS

"Political Systems, Postal Administrations, and the Mail"

Call for Papers

The Twelfth Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium

December 8-9, 2022

Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Washington, DC

Sponsored by

American Philatelic Society, American Philatelic Research Library,

Smithsonian National Postal Museum

In countries around the world, postal administrations and their missions, practices, and regulations serve as reflections and agents of state goals and ideals. Like the administrations, be they privatized, quasi or fully governmental, these ideals and goals can vary widely. In all cases, they shape the relationship that citizens, subjects, or residents have to the mail and the post office, including their expectations and decisions on how and when to use them. By sending and receiving mail or by using other offered services, individuals participate in communities or networks - familial, commercial, social, or other. Moreover, the acts of using and engaging - even the potential for these - with postal services may simultaneously reinforce and challenge the postal administration and its political foundations.

Possible themes involving the interaction and influence of the state, postal administrations, and the public include:

  • Regime change and its impact on postal services
  • Politics and economic systems determining governmental, quasi-governmental, and privatized structures
  • Postal regulation and legislation as relate to postal users
  • Postal contracting and subsidies
  • Relationship of politics to employment with the postal administrations and industries
  • Privacy, surveillance, censorship of mail
  • Innovation, adoption, adaptation, and removal of non-mail postal services
  • Representations of political ideas on stamps
  • Advertising and propaganda covers  
  • Postal regulations, laws, and the public
  • Mail as a tool or site of formal and informal community development and/or political activism
  • Letter-writing campaigns and correspondence circles

Deadlines for proposals:

One-page proposal and CV due May 4, 2022. In addition to a one-page proposal stating the question/s to be answered, the basic argument, and the source base, each individual should submit a one-page curriculum vitae that includes contact information (e-mail, phone, address) to

Notification of acceptance will be mailed on or about May 25, 2022. Although we are planning to hold the event in person, sessions will be streamed for viewing from home and slide shows and abstracts will be available online after the event. Presenters should plan to attend the event in person.

Papers due by September 1, 2022. Accepted proposals must result in previously unpublished papers of 5000-6000 words, including bibliographic material and citations. Event organizers are hoping presenters will consider the symposium an opportunity to receive feedback on their papers and are willing to facilitate the placement of publications in postal history and philatelic journals.

For more information and updates regarding the 2022 Postal History Symposium please see the Symposia and Lecture page on the National Postal Museum’s website at


2020 - "Postal Innovation of the Classic Era"

"Postal Innovation of the Classic Era: Evolution Leading to Modernization"

11th Postal History Symposium

October 26-30, 2020
American Philatelic Center, Bellefonte, PA

Symposium Day 1: Monday October 26, 2020
  • Keynote Address: "Postal Innovation in the Classic Era" - Scott R. Trepel
  • "Rise of the American Post 1639-1781" - Timothy O'Connor
  • "Postal History of the Issue of 1847" - Gordon Eubanks
    (presentation | video)
Symposium Day 2: Tuesday October 27, 2020s
  • “Early Railroads Carry the Mail" - James Milgram
  • "The British Colonial Post Office Controversy: A Letter from the Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution" - Anthony Gallagher
    (abstract | video)
  • "Steaming Mail: Introduction of the First High-Tech Postal Service" - John Laurence Busch
    (abstract | video)
Symposium Day 3: Wednesday October 28, 2020
  • "Mails of Navassa Island, The Original Overseas United States Possession, 1876-1898" - Ken Lawrence
    (abstract | video)
  • "Government Post in Hawaii: Creation and Reform – 1849 - 1859" - Fred Gregory
  • "U.S. Post Riders in Spanish West Florida, 1801-1810" - Yamil Kouri, Jr.
Symposium Day 4: October 29, 2020
  • "Evolution of Intercity Mail Transportation Modes 1840-1880: Insights from Postmaster General Annual Reports" - William DeWitt, III
    (abstract | presentation | video)
  • "Toll Gates & Toll Houses: Assistance or Hindrance for Mail Delivery Modes" - William Schultz
    (presentation | video)
  • "Blazing Trails for the Westward Expansion" - Steven Walske
    (presentation | video)
Symposium Day 5: October 30, 2020
  • "Confederate States of America: Postal Innovation during the Civil War" - Patricia Kaufmann
  • "The “Special” Postalization of Locale" - Diane DeBlois and Robert Dalton Harris
    (abstract | presentation | video)
  • "The New York Postmaster Provisional" - Mark Schwartz
2018 - "WWI and its Immediate Aftermath"

"WWI and its Immediate Aftermath"

10th Postal History Symposium

November 1-2, 2018
Smithsonian National Postal Museum, Washington, DC

Symposium Session 1: Postal Employees and Communication Networks
  • "Civilian and Military Organization of Mail Operations for the American Expeditionary Forces" - Lynn Heidelbaugh
    (abstract | presentation)
  • "The First World War, Female Telegraphists and the General Post Office’s Employment Priorities" - Joanna Espin
    (abstract | presentation)
  • "U.S. Army Signal Corps Telephone & Telegraph in the Great War" - Diane DeBlois and Robert Dalton Harris
    (abstract | presentation)
  • "World War I Impacts on Chile's Security Printing Plant Development" - Bill Lenarz
    (abstract | presentation)
Exhibit Presentations
  • “War Savings and Thrift Stamps-Helping Fund the Great War” - Harry Charles
    (abstract | presentation)
  • “Red Cross Activities Before, During and After WWI (1912-1923)” - Jack Elder
    (abstract | presentation)
  • “Prisoner of War Camps in Japan, 1914-1920. Opportunities for Exploration, Research and Study” - Harold Krische
    (abstract | presentation)
  • “The Versailles Peace Treaty: The Role of Diplomatic and Military Mail” - Ravi Vora
    (abstract | presentation)
Symposium Session 2: Censorship and Surveillance
  • "Zanzibar Mails – WWI" - Gary DuBro
    (abstract | presentation)
  • "Civilian Postal Censorship in India During the World War I Era" - Robert Gray
    (abstract | presentation)
  • "Postal Censorship of the Press during World War I" - Nancy Pope
    (abstract | presentation)
  • "The Revolution Will Not be Mailed: The US Post Office’s Role in Antiradicalism During and After World War I" - Adam Quinn
    (abstract | presentation)
Symposium Session 3: The Mail
  • "The Mail of Prisoners of the Great War: Picture Postcards and Aid-Related Cards" - Alexander Kolchinsky
    (abstract | presentation)
  • "Returning to a Country They No Longer Recognized" - Kevin Lowther
    (abstract | presentation)
  • "Write that Letter Home: Senders, Recipients, and the Content of World War I Correspondence” - Jim Miller
    (abstract | presentation)
2016 - "How Postal Treaties Influenced Post Office Reforms"

How Postal Treaties Influenced Post Office Reforms

9th Postal History Symposium

June 2, 2016
Jacob Javits Convention Center, New York City

Symposium Keynote
  • James Peter Gough RDP FRPSL
Symposium Session 1
  • A Non-Treaty Postal Agreement of the United States Post Office Department with the British Post Office as a significant early step towards the development of United States airmail to foreign destinations - Murray Abramson
    (read abstract | presentation)
  • Newspapers in the Mails: Postal Unification of the British American Colonies - Diane DeBlois & Robert Dalton Harris
    (read abstract | presentation)
  • 1836 Anglo-French Postal Convention (AF1836) - Geoffrey Lewis
    (read abstract | paper | presentation)
Symposium Session 2
2014 - "Development of Transoceanic Air Mail Service"

Development of Transoceanic Air Mail Service

8th Annual Postal History Symposium & Aerophilately

September 12-14, 2014
American Philatelic Center, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
The 2014 Symposium was held in conjunction with a philatelic exhibition hosted by the American Air Mail Society.

Symposium Keynote
  • “A Pan Am Flight Cover Literally Changed My Life” by Jon E. Krupnick
    (YouTube Video)
Symposium Session 1
Symposium Session 2
  • The Bathurst Connection: The Centrality of Gambia to the Development of Transatlantic Air Mail- Gary Wayne Loew
    (read abstract | presentation | paper | YouTube Video
    This paper was published in Cameo, vol. 16, no. 3 (October 2015) and is re-posted here with permission.)
  • Development of Transpacific Airmail Routes by the Naval Air Transport Service - William Fort
    (read abstract | presentation)
Symposium Session 3
2012 - "Blue & Gray: Mail and the Civil War"

Blue & Gray: Mail and the Civil War

7th Annual Postal History Symposium & U.S. Classics 2012

November 2-4, 2012
American Philatelic Center, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
The 2012 Symposium was held in conjunction with a philatelic exhibition hosted by the United States Philatelic Classics Society (USPCS).

Postal History Society Talk
  • The Fort Sumter Issue of 1961: A Commemorative in Conflict – David M. Frye
    (abstract | presentation)
Postal History Symposium Session 1
  • How the Post Office in Elmira, NY met the challenges of the American Civil War – Alan Parsons
    (abstract | presentation)
  • Decorated Envelopes as Weapons of War – Ken Lawrence
    (abstract | presentation | paper)
  • American Civil War Postage Due: North and South – Harry K. Charles, Jr.
    (abstract | presentation)
  • Balancing the Books: Newspapers & the Postal Business of the Confederacy – Diane DeBlois & Robert Dalton Harris
    (abstract | presentation | paper)
Postal History Symposium Session 2
  • The Madison, Florida Postmaster Provisionals: Anatomy of a Postal History Research Project – Patricia A. Kaufmann
    (abstract | presentation)
  • “Cold Mountain”: Philatelic Props Developed for the Movie – Thomas J. Richards
    (abstract | presentation | paper)
Postal History Symposium Session 3
  • Confederate Generals’ Mail, 1861-1865 – Brian Green & Alexander Green
    (abstract | presentation)
  • Economic Activity Following the Civil War Indexed by Postal Money Order Data – Terence Hines & Thomas Velk
  • Union and Confederate Soldiers’ Stationery: Their Designs and Purposes – Steven R. Boyd
  • Where are the Confederate Route Agents? – Douglas N. Clark
    (abstract | presentation | paper)
2011 - "How Commerce and Industry Shaped the Mails"

How Commerce and Industry Shaped the Mails

6th Annual Postal History Symposium

September 16 – 18, 2011
American Philatelic Center, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

Postal History Symposium Session 1
  • No Fries ’Til Mail—How tourism brought mail service to the Grand Canyon – Marjory J. Sente
    (presentation | paper)
  • The U.S. Special Handling Service - “Live Chicks” - And so much more - Require First Class Treatment – Robert G. Rufe
  • Promotion of Air Mail in the U.S. by Government and Industry – Arthur H. Groten M.D.
  • The Standardization of American Mail Order, 1860-1900 – Sarah A. Johnson, Ph.D.
  • Order No. 10 – Post Office Protection of the Express Cartel – David L. Straight
Postal History Symposium Session 2
  • How Postcards Saved The Rural Free Delivery – Dan Gifford, Ph.D.
  • Stamp Cancellations at a Rural Post Office in the 1940’s – Erick Lee Erickson, Ph.D.
  • Antebellum Transformations in Postal Architecture – Katherine Miller
  • Postal History and Network Art – Andrew Oleksiuk
    (presentation | paper)
  • Parcel Post Postage Due Stamps – Harry K. Charles, Jr., Ph.D.
  • “It’s in the Bag” – The Shape of Turn-of-the-Century Mail – Robert Harris & Diane Deblois
    (presentation | paper)
  • Role of the US Postal Money Order System in the Creation of the Mail Order Business – Terence Hines & Thomas Velk
  • Business Reply Mail Service – Richard D. Martorelli
    (presentation | paper)
  • Commerce, Industry, and Communications – David Hochfelder
    (presentation | paper)
2010 - "Stamps and the Mail: Imagery, Icons, & Identity"

Stamps and the Mail: Imagery, Icons, & Identity

5th Annual Postal History Symposium

September 30 - October 1, 2010
Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Use the links noted here to view the Papers/Presentations and Abtracts from the 2010 Symposium:

2009 - “Postal Reform”

“Postal Reform” 

4th Annual Postal History Symposium

October 30 – November 1, 2009
American Philatelic Center, Bellefonte, Pennsylvania

Use the links noted here to view the Papers/Presentations and Abtracts from the 2009 Symposium:

2008 - "When the Mail Goes to War"

When the Mail Goes to War

3th Annual Postal History Symposium

September 26-27, 2008
Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Information about the symposium is available - see details

2007 - "Technologies, Technologists & Networks"

A Symposium on the History of Communication Technologies

2nd Annual Postal History Symposium

September 30, 2007
Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Use the links noted here to view the Papers/Presentations and Abstracts from the 2007 Symposium:

2006 - "What is Postal History"

What is Postal History

1st Annual Postal History Symposium

November 3-4, 2006
Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Use the links noted here to view the Papers/Presentations and Abstracts from the 2006 Symposium:


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