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Post Offices of Europe 18th – 21st Century

A Comparative History

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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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Sunday Mail Service in France and Europe.A Different View of the Role of the Post Offices from the Early 19th Century to 1920s: Sébastien Richez

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A Different View of the Role of the Post Offices from the Early 19th Century to 1920s*

Sébastien RICHEZ

Mail delivery on Sunday?1 The question may appear strange to us today, but it is, in short and perhaps overly simplified, the same question that traveled across European postal services during the last third of the 19th century. The Universal Postal Union (UPU) echoed the controversial debates, consequences and models used in various countries in its journal, l’Union postale. But the UPU’s summaries are not the only food for thought on the question. Through a description of its own mode of operation, each country’s postal administration offers the comparative model of its own practice, recognizing it either as a source of international influence or as an impediment to the country’s economic and cultural development.

France was actively involved as a player for two reasons: first of all, there had been uninterrupted postal service on Sunday until at least the end of the 19th century; secondly, particularly harsh and reduced working conditions forced post office employees to demand the same advantages as those extended to other workers. In the context of an emerging European problematic related to the question of mail service on Sunday, it is interesting first of all to study trends of thought and opposing arguments in several countries. We shall then take a broader European view of procedures and reforms put in place by various postal administrations. In conclusion, we shall...

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