World Stamps

NPM to host postal history symposium Dec. 8-9

Nov 22, 2022, 9 AM

By Linn’s Staff

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum will host the 12th Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium Dec. 8-9 via the Zoom online platform and in person at the National Postal Museum, 2 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Washington, D.C., across from Union Station.

The 2022 symposium will cover political systems, postal administrations and the mail. Presentations run from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day. Admission is free, but registration is required. A registration link can be found on the museum’s website.

Registration spaces for those attending in person are limited and will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Anyone interested in attending in person should contact Winton M. Blount research chair Susan Smith directly by email at in addition to registering for the Zoom meeting.

In its description of the symposium, the museum said that postal administrations serve as agents of state goals and ideals. While these goals and ideals can vary widely, they shape the relationships people have with the mail and post office.

“By sending and receiving mail or by using other offered services, individuals participate in communities or networks — familial, commercial, social, or other,” the museum said. “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.”

Presentations will be organized into five themed sections during the symposium, with the schedule subject to change.

The Dec. 8 morning session, “The Varying Purposes of Stamp Messaging,” will feature K. Andrea Rusnock with “Postal Politics: Soviet Stamps of World War II”; Laura Goldblatt and Richard Handler with “The Eagle, the Rocket, and the Moon: US Postal Iconography at the End of History”; and A.M. LaVey with “Politico-Philatelic Semiosis in Russia’s 2014 Crimea Issues.”

The first afternoon session on Dec. 8 will have the theme of “Postal Networks and the Flow of Information.” Here Rocio Moreno Cabanillas will speak on “The Reform Postal Systems in the Process of Structuring and Construction of Imperial States in the 18th Century”; Perola Goldfeder will cover “‘Gathering Vassals Around the Throne’: The Political Economy of Postal Communications in 19th Century Brazil”; and Francesco Morriello will discuss “From Three Months to Three Seconds: The Evolution of Mail Delivery from the Renaissance to the Present Day.”

The last Dec. 8 session will focus on “The Postal Service in American Life” with Rebecca Brenner Graham presenting “Why the U. S. Ended Sunday Mail in 1912”; Alison Bazylinski speaking on “Rethinking Postal Politics: The National Association of Letter Carriers Ladies’ Auxiliary, 1905-1925”; and Diane DeBlois and Robert Dalton Harris exploring “Big Mail: from Public Good to Private Profit.”

The first of the two sessions on Dec. 9 will cover “Regimes in Flux: Their Impact on Postal Operations and Stamp Design” and will feature Roger Santala with “Lion or Eagle: Sovereignty, a Postal Authority, and the Mails, Finland 1890-1918”; Earl Toops with “Regime Change in Vietnam: Issues of the Provisional Revolutionary Government and Restoration of Postal Services in the Defeated South”; and Mark Piper with “Camaguey 1994-1995 Mother’s Day Cards: Cuban Global and Economic Adaption After the Dissolution of the USSR.”

The final session, “Stamp Iconography in Fascist Regimes,” will host Daniel A. Piazza with “The ‘Fascist Style’ in Italian Philately, 1922-1941”; Zach Agatstein with “‘Hitler’s Mundane Messengers’: The Banal Nationalism of Third Reich Postage Stamps”; and Guillermo Navarro Oltra with “Historical Figures on the Postage Stamps of Franco’s Spain: The Catholic Monarchs.”

The symposium is co-sponsored by the American Philatelic Society and the American Philatelic Research Library.

The National Postal Museum dedicates itself to the preservation, study and history of postal history and philately through the use of exhibits, educational programs and research. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and admission is always free.

For more information about the museum, call 202-633-1000 or visit its website.

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