Abstract: From the Transport to the Delivery of Mail: The Transformation of the French Postal Network in the Nineteenth Century

Sébastien Richez


The nineteenth century constituted a period of extensive structural evolution for the French Post Office. Until 1830, "postal service" denoted exclusively the transport of mail and people. Through a "rural postal service" law in 1830, the French Post Office extended its field of operations to include the collection and delivery of mail throughout the country, taking responsibility for the mail service from beginning to end. The most important transformation occurred in the adaptation of the human and administrative networks of the postal service: the role of rural postal worker was created; the post offices, whose numbers greatly increased, were spread throughout the country, set up in proximity to the post houses that had been established earlier. Nearly twenty years before the introduction of the postage stamp, the "rural postal service" put France on a road to early modernity.

BEH On-Line Paper