The Telegrams series consists of material documenting the telegram forms used by the Western Union Telegraph Company and other telegraph companies.
The advertisements, product booklets and pamphlets provide substantial documentation on the types of telegram services Western Union offered. Several types of telegraph service were available including-full rate telegrams that were transmitted at any hour; day letters which were slightly deferred telegrams; cablegrams which were sent standard rate using plain or cipher cable messages at any hour; overnight telegrams, accepted at any hour up to 2 am for delivery the following day; cable night letters for overnight service of business or social communications; photograms which were facsimiles of original communications as prepared by the sender and were transmitted electrically and photographically reproduced; and sing-o-grams delivered in song. Additionally, information pamphlets and booklets describing training and careers as Western Union messengers and the dependability of Western Union Time Service and its clocks is found in this series. Of note is the art work represented in the mast head of many telegrams. In many instances, Norman Rockwell is the artist.
In some instances, copies of blank forms for holidays or specialty telegrams were collected and assembled into small albums. Loose telegram forms were interfiled according to subject/specialty. There is some duplication and overlap. Researchers should consult the Warshaw Collection of Business Americana for its series on "Telegraphs."
This series is arranged into fourteen subseries:
1. Western Union cable/telegraph system background, undated
2. Western Union telegram books, undated
3. Western Union telegrams-specialty, undated
4. Western Union miscellaneous telegrams, 1870-1960s
5. Western Union delivery and message envelopes, 1865-1941
6. Western Union wired telegrams, 1857-1954
7. Western Union advertisements for telegram services, 1872-1942
8. Telegrams scrapbooks, 1850s-1940
9. Commercial Cable Company, undated
10. Commercial Pacific Cable Company, undated
11. Morse American Telegraph Company, undated
12. Postal Telegraph, 1889, 1930s-1942
13. Other companies, 1852-1938
14. International telegrams, undated
Collection is open for research but Series 11 and films are stored off-site. Special arrangements must be made to view some of the audiovisual materials. Contact the Archives Center for information at email@example.com or 202-633-3270.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Western Union Telegraph Company Records, Archives Center, National Museum of American History