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Tenth Winton M. Blount Postal History Symposium

November 1-2, 2018
Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Sponsored by
the American Philatelic Society,
the American Philatelic Research Library,
and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum

Wrought from militarism, nationalism and imperialism, the Great War broke empires, challenged established gender and race relations, and destroyed millions of lives. Mail became the critical link for the families separated and desperate for news. Governments responded to these developments and the disruption of communication networks, and struggled to determine who should be able to communicate with whom and about what.

From India to the U. S., from England to China, and from Palestine to Chile; much of the world was covered in the paper presentations and philatelic exhibits. Likewise, the topics varied widely from the postal workplace and logistics, from propaganda to censorship, and from funding the war to adapting to shortages. A public lecture on World War I letters was held on the night of October 31. Curator-led visits to the exhibition My Fellow Soldiers were offered during the symposium.

Send questions to:

Thursday, November 1


(Discovery Center)


Panel 1: Postal Employees and Communication Networks
(Discovery Center)

Lynn Heidelbaugh, "Civilian and Military Organization of Mail Operations for the American Expeditionary Forces"
Joanna Espin, "The First World War, Female Telegraphists and the General Post Office’s Employment Priorities"
Diane DeBlois and Robert Dalton Harris, "U.S. Army Signal Corps Telephone & Telegraph in the Great War"
Bill Lenarz, "World War I Impacts on Chile's Security Printing Plant Development"

John Willis, Discussant


Lunch – You are welcome to bring your lunch to the Blount Center.


Exhibit presentations
(Discovery Center)

Harry Charles, War Savings and Thrift Stamps-Helping Fund the Great War
Jack Elder, Red Cross Activities Before, During and After WWI (1912-1923)
Harold Krische, Prisoner of War Camps in Japan, 1914-1920. Opportunities for Exploration, Research and Study
Regis Hoffman, The Conquest, Occupation and Partition of German East Africa, 1914-1920 Ravi Vora, The Versailles Peace Treaty: The Role of Diplomatic and Military Mail




Exhibit visits
(Mezzanine and Mail Call Gallery on the ground floor.)

Friday, November 2


Panel 2: Censorship and Surveillance
(Discovery Center)

Gary DuBro, "Zanzibar Mails – WWI"
Robert Gray, "Civilian Postal Censorship in India During the World War I Era"
Nancy Pope, "Postal Censorship of the Press during World War I"
Adam Quinn, "The Revolution Will Not be Mailed: The US Post Office’s Role in Antiradicalism During and After World War I"

Chris Taft, Discussant


Lunch – You are welcome to bring your lunch to the Blount Center.


Panel 3: The Mail
(Discovery Center)

Alexander Kolchinsky, "The Mail of Prisoners of the Great War: Picture Postcards and Aid-Related Cards"
Kevin Lowther, "Returning to a Country They No Longer Recognized"
Jim Miller, "Write that Letter Home: Senders, Recipients, and the Content of World War I Correspondence"

Ryan Reft, Discussant




Discussion: Research Challenges
(Discovery Center)


Wrap up
(Discovery Center)


Drinks and appetizers. Please join us in the loft on the mezzanine.

Also, just a reminder that from 6:15 – 8 pm on the evening of October 31st, in the Discovery Center, the museum will be hosting History After Hours during which Andrew Huebner, Associate Professor of History at the University of Alabama, will giving a talk titled “Slow Motion Romance: The Transatlantic Love Story of Mae and Eliga Dees.” Dr. Huebner is the author of Love and Death in the Great War (Oxford University Press, 2018). A book signing will follow the talk and the publication will be available for purchase at the Museum Store.