“Telegraph” newspapers prior to 1844?

July 20, 2009 by  
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united_states_telegraphIt is commonly known that the magnetic telegraph was developed in 1844 by Samuel Morse, so perhaps you’ve wondered—like I have—why so many newspapers had the title “Telegraph” dating long before this date? Clarence Brigham in his book “Journals & Journeymen” provides some details.

Between 1792 & 1794 several systems of telegraphic signals were developed in England & France. They were dependent upon cross-bars pivoting into difference positions at the top of high poles.

In 1795 a paper was established at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, titled “The Telegraphe”. The first issue did a history of telegraphic experiments taken from British & French periodicals, & stated it was the first paper in America to use the title. This was true, but less than a month after the Carlisle paper’s beginning the “Fells Point Telegraphe” was established at Baltimore, and shortly thereafter newspapers in Charleston, Greenfield (Mass.), and again in Baltimore changed their titles to include the word “Telegraphe”.  In the next five months another 4 newspapers incorporated this word into their titles.

By 1820 forty newspapers in America had employed this word into their mastheads, but the phenomena was almost entirely American. Curiously only 2 papers in London & Paris used the word in 1794 and none after that until later in the 19th century.

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