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July 6, 2011 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Is there a repository for old telegrams?

I read a scattered article today which mentioned scholars using telegrams for early 20th century historical research. Where are such telegrams stored?
posted by wpenman to Technology (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know about "stored" but you could try eBay. Someone in another country found one on eBay, researched the name, researched relatives of the person (me, for one), and sent me a photo of the telegram. That was the talk of the Thanksgiving dinner table in three states!
posted by jgirl at 3:32 PM on July 6, 2011

There isn't a single repository dedicated to telegrams that I know of, but you could certainly find large caches of them in nearly any historical business or government archive's collection. I once worked at a presidential library, and there were thousands of telegrams scattered throughout the records there.
posted by backwards compatible at 3:59 PM on July 6, 2011

I doubt there would be any kind of central depository: I'd doubt if there was EVER any copy of any particular telegram filed any place other than the originating office --- and when they cleaned out each separate office, the originals (IF any had been kept on file) were trashed. You've got to remember that telegrams were private communications, just as a paper letter is/was; unless the recipent saved it, you're probably SOL.
posted by easily confused at 4:05 PM on July 6, 2011

One of my profs just got her bound dissertation today, she did historical research. She mentioned that the British Museum (I think?) has in the past few years been giving a lot of funding to get smaller collections online, or at least their catalogs.

You might be able to look through something like that, or go talk to your local academic librarian if one exists. But I'd agree with the above commenters: you'll find telegrams in personal or business archives, but not through the telegram services. You'll need to narrow your search or spend a LOT of time looking through cruft.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:28 PM on July 6, 2011

Try personal and private archives of specific people and institutions.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 5:52 PM on July 6, 2011

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