Second ‘International Congress in Postal History’ kicks off in Italy

The Institute of Postal History Studies (IPHS) based in Central Italy has opened its second International Congress in Postal History, which will run through June 25.

Founded in 1982 and known as the Istituto di studi storici postali in Italian – or “Aldo Cecchi” – the institute is headquartered in Prato, Italy, but serves as an “international center for research in postal history,” according to its website. The group’s second International Congress, which follows its inaugural event in 2019, will highlight postal history’s global and multidisciplinary nature while covering subjects from classical antiquity to the late 20th century. Two dozen speakers are slated to present.

“Postal history is a mature discipline, having its own instruments thanks to some important research centres in Italy, Europe and United States … and studying what we have shown above with a fruitful approach, using different disciplines and instruments, and offering a wide array of perspectives,” reads the IPHS website. “Post leads a central role in society – its wide and different interests make postal history a clearly multidisciplinary research field. For this reason, the title of this congress considers all aspects of postal history multidisciplinarity, from classical antiquity to the present days, and allows us to examine all subjects connected with postal history, regardless of chronology and geography.”

To view this year’s International Congress program, click here. For the invited papers’ abstracts, which are available in both English and Italian, click here.

The IPHS organized its first International Congress in 2019 with participants from Europe and the United States.

“It proved to be an important scientific meeting between scholars who shared methodologies, experiences and ideas, and also discussed the state of the art in international research,” according to IPHS officials.

SINCE 1982

The IPHS goals as stated on its website include:

  • improving general knowledge about postal communications through the study and documentation of past and present postal networks;
  • developing in-depth knowledge about the organization and operation of postal networks;
  • collecting, classifying and preserving documents, including originals and copies, related to the study of postal history; and
  • disseminating information about postal history topics through publications, courses, conferences, workshops, exhibitions and other events.

The institute is located in the Palazzo Datini, a late 14th-century palace, in the former home of Francesco Datini, known as the “merchant of Prato.” When Datini died in 1410, he gave all his possessions to the city’s poor, according to the IPHS, and this bequest marked the beginning of Casa Pia dei Ceppi, “a medieval version of a modern charitable foundation.”

Today, in its original location, Casa Pia dei Ceppi preserves Datini’s business records, including 150,000 letters, 600 ledgers and 6,000 credit accounts “that make it the world’s most important archive for the economic history of the Middle Ages,” the IPHS website states.

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