The Moroney Awards for Scholarship in Postal History

The United States Postal Service sponsors two biennial prizes for scholarship on the history of the American postal system, the Rita Lloyd Moroney Awards. Scholarship by junior scholars (undergraduates and graduate students) is eligible for a $1,000 award; scholarship by senior scholars (faculty members, independent scholars, and public historians) is eligible for a $2,000 award.

The American postal system coordinated the first nationwide communications network in the United States. Throughout much of American history, it was also the largest federal government agency. Founded in 1775, the postal system expanded rapidly following the enactment of the Post Office Act of 1792; by 1828, it maintained offices throughout the length and breadth of the United States. In the early republic, the postal system facilitated the regular and reliable conveyance over long distances and at high speed of information on public affairs, market trends, and personal matters. Since the 1870s, it has also become a major medium for the conveyance of goods. Given the enormous geographical scale on which the postal system has operated and its importance as a federal government agency, it played a major role in American business, politics, journalism, labor, popular culture, and social reform. The influence of the postal system in each of these realms—as well as in many others—deserves the attention of historians.

Learn more about the program’s…

Mission ›

Eligibility ›

Selection Criteria ›

Deadline and Submission Procedure ›

Winners ›

The awards honor Rita Lloyd Moroney, who began conducting historical research for the Postmaster General in 1962 and then served as Historian of the U.S. Postal Service from 1973 to 1991. These prizes are designed to encourage scholarship on the history of the American postal system and to raise awareness about the significance of the postal system in American life. Back to Top ›

Topics: The prizes are intended for scholarship on any topic on the history of the American postal system from the colonial era to the present—including the history of the imperial postal system that preceded the establishment of the American postal system in 1775. Though submissions must be historical in character, they can draw on the methods of disciplines other than history—e.g., geography, cultural studies, literature, communications, or economics. Comparative or international historical studies are eligible if the American postal system is central to the discussion.

Junior Prize: This prize is for scholarship written or published by undergraduates or graduate students. Submissions can take the form of a journal article, a book chapter, a conference paper, an M.A. thesis, or a Ph. D. dissertation. Submissions are eligible if they were originally written when the author was a student even if they were subsequently revised for publication. All submissions must include a signed statement from the author attesting to his or her status at the time when the initial work was completed. Individuals may win the junior prize just once but are eligible to receive the senior prize the next award year.

Senior Prize: This prize is for scholarship published by faculty members, independent scholars, public historians and other non-degree candidates. Submissions may take the form of a journal article, a book chapter, or a book. Senior award winners are not eligible to win in consecutive award years.

Restrictions: Submissions must have been published, accepted (in the case of theses and dissertations), or presented (in the case of conference papers), in a four-year period prior to the application deadline. Submissions that do not receive a prize may be re-submitted the following award year if they fall within these restrictions. Back to Top ›

Selection Criteria
In evaluating submissions, the prize committee will rely on the following criteria:

  • What is its significance for our understanding of the history of the American postal system and its role in the American past?
  • How original is its argument?
  • How imaginative is its use of primary sources (e.g., archival materials, trade and professional journals, or visual imagery)?
  • How effectively does it engage existing scholarship?
  • How well is it written?

The committee reserves the right not to award any prize during an award year if no submissions are deemed suitable. Back to Top ›

Deadline and Submission Procedure
Submissions for the 2018 prize must be postmarked by December 1, 2017. No late entries will be accepted.

Authors must submit three copies of each submission along with a cover letter in which the author attests that the submission meets the eligibility requirements. Submissions will not be returned.

Send all materials to:
Professor Richard Kielbowicz
Department of Communication
Box 353740
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

Decisions will be announced in April 2018.

Please direct all questions to Professor Kielbowicz at the above address or to
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2016 Senior Award — Peter A. Shulman, "Ben Franklin's Ghost: World Peace, American Slavery, and the Global Politics of Information before the Universal Postal Union," Journal of Global History, July 2015. Mr. Shulman is an associate professor of history at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.

2016 Junior Award — No winner selected.

2014 Senior Award – Roman J. Hoyos, “The People’s Privilege: The Franking Privilege, Constituent Correspondence, and Political Representation in Mid-Nineteenth Century America,” Law and History Review, February 2013. Mr. Hoyos is an associate professor at Southwestern Law School in Los Angeles.

2014 Junior Award – John Nathan Anderson, "Money or Nothing: Confederate Postal System Collapse during the Civil War," American Journalism, 30 (Winter 2013). Mr. Anderson wrote the article while a doctoral student at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

2012 Senior Award – Eric Jaffe, The King's Best Highway: The Lost History of the Boston Post Road, the Route that Made America (New York: Scribner, 2010).  Mr. Jaffe, a graduate of Columbia University's School of Journalism, is a contributing writer for The Atlantic Cities, an online magazine focusing on urban transportation.

2012 Junior Award – Kelly E. Gonzalez, "Joint Forces: A Military and Postal Partnership on the American Frontier."  Ms. Gonzalez wrote the paper in 2010 as her master’s thesis in military history while a student at Norwich University.

2011 Senior Award—Philip F. Rubio, There’s Always Work at the Post Office: African American Postal Workers and the Fight for Jobs, Justice, and Equality (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2010).  Mr. Rubio, a former postal employee, is an assistant professor of history at North Carolina A&T State University.

2011 Junior Award—Joseph M. Adelman, "‘A Constitutional Conveyance of Intelligence, Public and Private’: The Post Office, the Business of Printing, and the American Revolution," published in the journal Enterprise & Society, 11 (no. 4, 2010). Mr. Adelman wrote the article while a doctoral student in history at Johns Hopkins University.

2010 Senior Award--Allison Marsh, "Greetings from the Factory Floor: Industrial Tourism and the Picture Postcard." Professor Marsh’s article was published in the October 2008 issue of Curator: The Museum Journal. She teaches in the Department of History, University of South Carolina, Columbia.

2010 Junior Award-—Sheila A. Brennan, "Stamping American Memory: Stamp Collecting in the U.S., 1880s-1930s." Ms. Brennan wrote the paper in 2009 while a graduate student at George Mason University, as her Ph.D. dissertation.

2009 Senior Award--Anuj Desai, “The Transformation of Statutes into Constitutional Law: How Early Post Office Policy Shaped Modern First Amendment Doctrine,” and “Wiretapping Before the Wires: The Post Office and the Birth of Communications Privacy.” Professor Desai’s articles were published in the March 2007 Hastings Law Journal and the November 2007 Stanford Law Review. He teaches at the University of Wisconsin Law School.

2009 Junior Award--Philip Glende, "Victor Berger's Dangerous Ideas: Censoring the Mail to Preserve National Security During World War I" (paper presented at the 2007 conference of the Economic and Business Historical Society and published in Essays in Economic and Business History, Volume 26, 2008). Mr. Glende wrote the paper while a Ph.D. student in the University of Wisconsin’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

2008 Senior Award--David A. Gerber, Authors of Their Lives: The Personal Correspondence of British Immigrants to North America in the Nineteenth Century (New York: New York University Press, 2006). Professor Gerber teaches in the Department of History at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

2008 Junior Award--Ryan Ellis, "Binding the Nation Together: The Politics of Postal Service." Mr. Ellis was a University of California San Diego graduate student when he wrote the paper.

2007 Senior Award--David M. Henkin, The Postal Age: The Emergence of Modern Communications in Nineteenth-Century America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2006). Professor Henkin teaches in the Department of History, University of California-Berkeley.

2007 Junior Award--Jesse Vogler, “‘Correct and Perfect’: Post Office Design Guidelines and the Standardization of the National Postal Landscape” (paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Vernacular Architecture Forum 2006). Mr. Vogler was a student in the Master of Architecture program at the University of California-Berkeley when he wrote the paper. Back to Top ›

Note: The Moroney Awards were sponsored annually from 2007 through 2012.