Technology, Crisis, and Toronto’s Postal Slogans by Robert O’Dell lll

Technology, Crisis, and Toronto’s Postal Slogans: The Origins and Transnational Evolution of Government Postal Propaganda in Canada and the United States, 1870-1920

Incorporating an artifact from Toronto’s rich history of postal slogan postmarks as an inquiry starting point for a broader scholarly examination, this lecture delves into the local, national, and international history and origins of government postal propaganda in Canada and the United States during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

This lecture argues that Progressive Era crises, ranging from social unrest to war, encouraged the Canadian and American governments to appropriate traditional craft aesthetics and work with transnational capitalists on both sides of the forty-ninth parallel to transform seemingly mundane postmarking machinery into subtle tools of constant state indoctrination that proliferated propagandistic pictorial slogan postmarks to mailboxes in every corner of North America.

ROBERT O’DELL III, U.E. is a historian of technology, labor, and business, a postal historian, and an aspiring Human Performance Engineer and Instructional Systems Designer/Technologist, currently pursuing his Doctorate in Instructional Systems Technology at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA, focusing on Human Performance Improvement in business, government, and industrial workplaces. Mr. O’Dell’s historical interests broadly encompass the transnational history of technology, labor, and business in the United States and Canada during the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

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