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Post Offices of Europe 18th – 21st Century

A Comparative History


Edited By Muriel Le Roux and Sébastien Richez

The cursus publicus, established by the Roman Empire to connect all its conquered territories, may be considered to be the ancestor of all modern post offices. Therefore, mail service networks are part of an organization, dating from Antiquity, which is common to the entire European community.
From the 18 th century onwards, the French mail service network may be divided into three successive phases. First, the consolidation of the transportation system that was being set up. Second, the development of the system’s ability to deal with increasing traffic (through broader human resources). Thirdly, the diversification of its operations and the development of its technical modernisation.
What was the situation in other European countries? Are there similarities and differences in how their networks were set up and organized? Finally, how did European Post Offices cooperate with each other in spite of their differences?
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Research Centres for the History of Postal Services.The Italian Case: Bruno Crevato-Selvaggi



The study of the postal history treats phenomena of organized communication highlighting an orientation toward the concrete with a new, fruitful, interdisciplinary approach that brings together diverse disciplines, such as social, cultural, administrative, and business history, journalism and commerce, history of letter-writing, palaeography, diplomacy, and historical economics and geography. Furthermore, it makes points of contact with other disciplines, such as literature, ethnology, archaeology, and sphragistics. It is, if you will, a re-examination, in the light of modern historiography, of the historical studies influenced by positivism begun in the second half of the 19th century.

Until a few years ago, Italian universities offered no instruction in this discipline. Today, only a few universities offer courses in the “history of communications” which touch on the history of postal services. Even topics such as “travel in Italy,” for which there exists an inter-university research centre, have been dealt with from the point of view of literature, customs, art, tourism, etc., but hardly ever from the perspective of equestrian postal services (posta-cavalli), which were the foundation of the “travel.”

Despite this less than heartening panorama, some researchers have approached various aspects of the history of postal services with scientific rigour. Some centres for the study of and research into the history of postal services have been organized and become active in Italy. The term “postal history” in itself has two meanings: if, on the one hand, it refers to the kind of research referred to above,...

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