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Post Offices of Europe 18th – 21st Century

A Comparative History


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 18th 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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PTT Labor Management 1946-1974: the State as Father?The Case of Mail Deliverers in the Paris Region: Marie Cartier



After 1946, France instituted the external recruitment of postal workers based on a competition open to candidates from outside the administration, at a time when post office employees were included within the general regulation of public service.1 With the increase and shift of postal circulation toward cities, the competition drew fewer and fewer candidates. These recruiting problems persisted in the Paris region until the 1970s when a return to an overall economic situation intervened.2 After presenting the hiring problems, I emphasize the presence of certain management attitudes that strove to give the fragile labor force emerging from the rural working class greater stability and a higher moral standard. I shall focus on the class of “préposés” (The title of “préposé” or “postman” replaced that of “facteur” in 1957), which was the largest work force whose situation was problematic during the 1950s and 1960s because of urbanization, rising economic exchange, and the development of automobile travel. How can we characterize the specific way in which these PTT workers were managed? How useful and relevant is the notion of “paternalism” that was developed to describe labor management in the private as well as the public sector in the period from the mid-19th century to the Second World War? Does it effectively characterize the practices of a State administration during a period of economic and political modernization referred to as the “Trente Glorieuses” (the Thirty Glorious Years)? ← 297 | 298 →

Research into postmen at the...

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