Cool@Hoole

The Lost(?) Art of the Telegram

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Our search tool, Acumen, is good for turning up items related to a given person or topic, but it can also be used to uncover particular types of items. While diaries and letters are popular tools for research, there are countless other interesting and useful document types represented in our digital collections…like the telegram.
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We’d like to think technology of the past is so different from our own, but long before we were able to create text messages with our phones or compress our thoughts into 140 characters on Twitter, we were sending short bursts of information via telegraphy.

In telegrams, friends could say hello — or even pass along a greeting from a third party.

hello telegram

They could also share their sorrows, however briefly.

death telegram

In fact, some sorrows came from over the ocean, as with this message about a soldier fighting in WWI.

WWI death telegram

Telegrams were often used to keep family members and friends in the loop, even if they didn’t always work as planned.

sickness telegram

If a person had enough money, brevity might fly out the window. This telegram reads like a postcard — or your average (free!) Facebook status update.

vacation telegram

Before holiday e-cards, there were speciality telegrams for season’s greetings.

Christmas telegram

Even in the midst of war, a holiday message over the wires could remind people of family, friends, and the possibility of renewal.

Rosh Hashanah telegram

This year, the Jewish high holy day Rosh Hashanah begins at sunset on Sept. 16. L’Shanah Tovah.

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