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Postal services in Western Australia, 1826-1901: The growth of an organisation

Pope, Brian (1989) Postal services in Western Australia, 1826-1901: The growth of an organisation. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

A postal system was initiated in Western Australia in December 1829 with a staff of one at Fremantle. When the Commonwealth assumed control In March 1901, there were more than 200 postal establishments throughout the State. This growth, its causes and some of the means by which it was accomplished, are examined in this thesis.

The postal system is studied in the context of demographic and economic change. At first the system was administered 1n a relatively informal manner by independent postmasters. It was dominated by businessmen such as Lionel Samson who undertook official postal responsibilities on a part-time basis as an adjunct to their commercial activity and, in some instances, other government work.

With the introduction of salaries in 1837, a Postmaster General in 1841 and some full-time employment from the late 1840s, the organisation gradually assumed a more formal structure although part-time employment continued to be the response to variable demand. The degree of formalisation was uneven and, at various times, effective use was made of untrained Aboriginal and female operatives and non-postal, government functionaries such as the military and the police.

By the end of the colonial period, the postal department had developed into a formal organisation providing a service for a relatively small population in isolated communities spread over an extensive geographical area. A set of characteristics typical of such organisations, derived from Max Weber's work on bureaucracy, is used to analyse this development.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: repository@murdoch.edu.au. Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Layman, Lenore
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/51493
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