The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America

Paperback | October 15, 2007

byDavid M. Henkin

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Many of us may not realize that what we now call snail mail was once just as revolutionary as e-mail and text messages are today. As David M. Henkin argues in The Postal Age, a burgeoning postal network initiated major cultural shifts during the nineteenth century, laying the foundation for the interconnectedness that now defines our ever-evolving world of telecommunications.

This fascinating history traces these shifts from their beginnings in the mid-1800s, when cheaper postage, mass literacy, and migration combined to make the long-established postal service a more integral and viable part of everyday life. Through original correspondence and public discussions from the time period, Henkin tells the story of how Americans adjusted to a new world of long-distance correspondence, crowded post offices, junk mail, valentines, and dead letters. Throughout, The Postal Age paints a vibrant picture of a society where possibilities proliferated for personal and impersonal communications.

The Postal Age is engagingly written, rich with anecdotes and observations that dramatize and illuminate the manifold facets of 'postal culture' in the antebellum United States. . . . a nuanced view of the complicated relationships between technologies and systems and social forms. The Postal Age is a major contribution to American social history and to the history of communications in general.”--Geoffrey Nunberg, author of Going Nucular: Language, Politics, and Culture in Controversial Times

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Many of us may not realize that what we now call snail mail was once just as revolutionary as e-mail and text messages are today. As David M. Henkin argues in The Postal Age, a burgeoning postal network initiated major cultural shifts during the nineteenth century, laying the foundation for the interconnectedness that now defines our e...

David M. Henkin is associate professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of City Reading.

other books by David M. Henkin

Becoming America
Becoming America

Hardcover|Jan 6 2014

$184.55 online$247.95list price(save 25%)
Format:PaperbackDimensions:238 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.7 inPublished:October 15, 2007Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0226327213

ISBN - 13:9780226327211

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface  
Acknowledgments  
Introduction 
Part One - Joining a Network 
One: Becoming Postal: A Communications Revolution in Antebellum America
Two: Mailable Matters: From News to Mail
Three: Playing Post Office: Mail in Urban Space
Part Two - Postal Intimacy
Four: Embracing Opportunities: The Construction of the Personal Letter
Five: Precious as Gold: Mobility and Family in the Gold Rush and Civil War
Six: Mass Mailings: Valentines, Junk Mail, and Dead Letters
Epilogue  
Notes  
Index

Editorial Reviews

"The Postal Age develops a strong case for studying the developmental interplay of communcation technologies, publics, and practices of reading, seeing, and writing as constitutive of self, other, and nation."