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Telecommunications Industry: A Research Guide

Industry History

Waldon Fawcett, contributor. Printing telegraph.1908. National Photo Company Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

On May 24, 1844, Samuel Morse gathered with a room of dignitaries in the Capitol Building in Washington, DC to send the first public telegram. It traveled through a newly built wire line to Baltimore, the culmination of nearly a year of work done by ditch diggers, pipe layers and wire manufacturers. Miss Annie Ellsworth had the honor of composing and sending the first telegram, a Bible quote she chose for the occasion--"What hath God wrought!" The telecommunications industry was born.

Alexander Graham Bell made the first telephone call in 1876. Less than 20 years later, Gugliemo Marconi invented the “wireless telegraph,” or what came to be known as radio. Within a century, Western Union, the old telegraph company, launched America’s first domestic communications satellite into space.

Below are selected resources for researching historical topics in telecommunications. See the pages under Telecommunications Industry Sectors in this guide for information on specific industries which can also help with historical research. The Library of Congress holds many resources that span the history of the telecommunications industry.

Selected Books

The following materials link to fuller bibliographic information in the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Links to online resources are included when available. E-books versions may be available onsite at the Library of Congress via the Library's STACKS database, accessible on dedicated computers in the reading rooms, or e-book subscription databases.

Internet Resources

The links to articles below are just a selection, there are many newer and other sources. Additional Internet research as well as searching full-text databases will be important to find substantive discussions on more nebulous ideas and emerging trends.

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