Paper proposals are invited for the 2008 Postal History Symposium, the third annual, national conference for academic scholars, philatelists, and industry experts to discuss their research into the history of postal organizations and systems. The Symposium is jointly sponsored by the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and the American Philatelic Society.
The theme for the 2008 Symposium is war and the mail, broadly interpreted to include everything related to defense and the postal system in all countries and eras.
Postal topics are usually framed in peaceful terms: mail “binds the nation together” by enabling commerce and encouraging technological development, while stamps are “works of art in miniature” or “little paper ambassadors” of national culture and achievement. Often overlooked is the fact that when a nation goes to war, its stamps and postal system are always an integral part of the mobilization—and the relief effort.
Possible subjects to be explored include, but are not limited to:
• Logistics of transporting mail to and within theaters of operation; integration of mail into military supply chains;
• The intricate web of policies, regulations, and treaties that govern the movement of overseas military mail;
• Organization and operation of postal facilities in the field; challenges of locating personnel
• Role of uniformed mail clerks; challenges of maintaining domestic mail service when delivery industry employees are called up to active duty;
• History, use, and misuse of diplomatic mail pouches;
• The history of public letter writing campaigns (i.e., “Operation Dear Abby” and “Any Service Member Mail”); grassroots efforts to fill the void left by their suspension in 2001
• The move to privatize and outsource military mail delivery;
• War letters as primary historical documents;
• Mail from and to prisoners of war; concentration camp victims; internees;
• Overt and covert censorship of civilian and military mail in times of war and civil disturbance;
• Unusual methods of delivery employed in wartime, e.g. pigeon post; balloon mail; V-Mail and airgraphs;
• Stamps (including forgeries) and covers as instruments of propaganda;
• The politics of commemorating war on stamps;
• Development of soldier’s free franking privilege;
• Mail service suspension in war and civil unrest.
Proposals for individual papers or entire panels are welcome.
Proposals should be a maximum of one page and accompanied by a brief curriculum vita for each proposer. Each c.v. must give complete contact information (E-mail, telephone, and street address) and name a single primary institutional or society affiliation. Complete proposal packages must be sent via E-mail to Allison Marsh, firstname.lastname@example.org. Proposals will be reviewed by the organizing committee and notifications will be made on or about July 1, 2008.
Winton M. Blount Research Chair
Smithsonian National Postal Museum
2 Massachusetts Avenue, NE
MRC 570 PO Box 37012
Washington, DC 20013-7012
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