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2011 Funded Research Projects

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum and United States Stamp Society 2011 Scholarship Committee selected Dr. Erick Lee Erickson for his proposal “Fourth Class Post Office Accounting”.  His proposal was to study how rural postmasters received a pay check from the government. It is common knowledge among historians and researchers that rural postmaster pay was based on the amount of postage that was cancelled at their offices, but little attention has been given to the manner in which they obtained their compensation. There are no Official Personnel Files for rural postmasters in the Civilian Personnel Archives of the National Personnel Records Administration. So, the government did not pay these postmasters as if they were employees. Instead, 4th class postmasters retained their earnings from current receipts and submitted only cash balances in excess of their salary allowances to district postmasters. This accounting and compensation explains why some remnants of the old system of rural mail persisted into the middle of the 20th century alongside the modern system of rural free delivery. Fourth class post offices were sustainable.

The Smithsonian National Postal Museum and Washington 2006 World Philatelic Exhibition Scholarship selected Dr. Katherine A. Miller for her proposal “Antebellum Transformations in Postal Architecture.” In the 1850s, the number of post offices constructed across the U.S. by the Department of Treasury exponentially skyrocketed. The impact of architecture produced by the Office of the Supervising Architect (OSA), a division of the Department of Treasury, and established during the antebellum era resulted in several new designs of post office buildings. Her project will focus on examining its history and impact on material culture in post office architecture.