Paper Trails: The Us Post and the Making of the American West


Product Details

Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
6.9 X 10.1 X 0.9 inches | 1.45 pounds

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About the Author

Cameron Blevins is Associate Professor, Clinical Teaching Track, in the History Department at the University of Colorado Denver, and is a respected leader in the field of digital history.


Cameron Blevins's Paper Trails: The U.S. Post and the Making of the American West is a wonderful example of digital history built on information technology and archival research. -- Marc Levinson, Wall Street Journal

Paper Trails offers a timely reminder that the post has always been political. [...] One of the most striking aspects of Paper Trails isn't in the book. Mr Blevins is a digital historian, meaning he uses data science to analyse historical trends. He built an accompanying website replete with
interactive maps to show readers how, within a generation, the postal service helped colonise a continent. These online dispatches beautifully illustrate the formative power of snail mail. -- The Economist

A thoughtful consideration of an overlooked but clearly central aspect of westward expansion. -- Kirkus

In the hands of Cameron Blevins, isolated post offices become windows into life in the American West. With great skill, Blevins portrays the expansive growth of the American state in an original, surprising, and persuasive way. -- Edward L. Ayers, winner of the Bancroft Prize

With the publication of Paper Trails, Cameron Blevins emerges as a leader in a critically important but under-recognized genre: books in which authors make fully persuasive cases for the great importance of historical subjects that their predecessors barely noticed. With the intensity and range of
Blevins's research, the clarity and vigor of his writing style, and, most of all, his distinctive perspective on the relationship between the history of the American West and the history of the federal government, this book gains the status of a fresh appraisal of the arrangements of power and
population in the West and in the nation as a whole. -- Patricia Nelson Limerick, author of Legacy of Conquest

In this engaging and beautifully written book, Cameron Blevins combines rich archival detail and the insights of spatial analysis to provide a nuanced account of how the federal government shaped the settlement of the US West. Paper Trails will make you see state power in entirely new ways. --
Rachel St. John, University of California, Davis

As the human presence of the American state, the postal system diffused office and service across a continental landscape. In teaching this lesson and others, Cameron Blevins has produced a study so methodologically and empirically rich that it sets a model for disciplines beyond history. --
Daniel Carpenter, author of Democracy by Petition: Popular Politics in Transformation, 1790-1870

Paper Trails is a sweeping overview of a major US government agency in the nineteenth-century trans-Mississippi West. By combining modern digital mapping techniques with traditional archival research, Blevins shows how postal policy can help us better understand the rise of the modern American
state. -- Richard R. John, author of Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse