Do you know a telegraphy expert? [Telecom]

This is a bit off the beaten track, but bear with me.

I'm trying to locate an expert who knows a lot about telegraph signalling, especially the technology used during the Civil War.

I'm asking because I want to have some reproduction instruments made, and I need to know what is and isn't appropriate for the typical field telegraph station during the war. I need to know what kind(s) of battery(ies) was/were used, how a typical setup would look and operate, and (most importantly) what manufacturers and instruments were in use before and during the conflict.

This is, by the way, somewhat telecom-related: I spent the first few years of my career at N.E.T. working on EMX signalling units, and I was always fascinated by the technology, which I was told was a holdover from the telegraph days and predated the Civil War.

Thanks for your help.

Bill Horne Temporary Moderator

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Telecom digest moderator
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Try the fine folks at

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Some of them are experts on older technology.

***** Moderator's Note *****

Good idea: I'm a life member, so I should have thought of that first.

Bill Horne Temporary Moderator

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Google for "robert feeney" telegraph

And please copy me on what comes along, as there is a Pea Ridge National Military Park near me and the head ranger there is interested in putting in a telegraph system too.

Reply to
Jim Haynes

There was a book published not too long ago called "The Victorian Internet" and is a history of the telegraph. I don't think it's that technical, but it may give some insights into the operating conditions.

Another resource may be a large library, either main city or university. Such collections do not throw out old books and may have old science/engineering textbooks from 75-100 years ago that would have technical information in them. There is the OCLC website

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which is a central card catalog for all libraries, check under the Telegraph heading (you will have to do some manual filtering). Note that in some libraries some old books are not included in the electronic catalog; you may have to make a personal visit. (I believe you're in Boston, perhaps the MIT libraries would be a place to start.)

Even a 50 year old book may have references to legacy technology.

I'm not into the Civil War, but I presume there is a large body of books published about it. Perhaps as an aside to the main story such books may include references to telegraph operation, such as what they could do and what they could not to under wartime conditions.

The US Army publishes official military history books that go into great detail. Perhaps there is a volume on the Signal Corps as in the Civil War.

Indeed, did the technology change that much from the Civil War to WW I? Perhaps technical books of WW I might serve your need and be easier to find.

Good luck!

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