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Morse telegraph register Western Union Telegraph Company Records
1820-1995

400 cubic feet
by Robert S. Harding and Alison Oswald

Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C;. archivescenter@si.edu; 202-633-3270; www.americanhistory.si.edu/archives
© 2001, second edition, by the Smithsonian Institution. All rights reserved.


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SERIES 26: AUDIO VISUAL MATERIALS, 1925-1994

Box Folder Description
    Subseries 1: Employee Training Films, 1925-ca. 1980s
  OF 205.1 [Wade, North Carolina, Flood] ca. 1925
16mm black and white silent print, 412 feet
Footage of flooded town and of telegraph poles and wires. Western Union truck and boat come in and men repair damage to poles and wires.
810
811
OF 205.2
RV 205.2
MV 205.2
X Messages, ca. 1927
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 235 feet
" Telegrams ordering the purchase or sale of stocks and bonds listed on the large exchanges are called x' messages." Examples of telegrams, how and why to deal with "x" messages.
  OF 205.3 The Fulton Fish Market, ca. 1928
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 207 feet
A day in the life of the Fulton Street, New York City, Fish Market. Unloading catch of the day, boats, peddlers, ice suppliers, Western Union office and John J. Driscoll, its manager. "The perishable nature of the commodity makes necessary the prompt shipment of the catch and justifies and RX' handling for fish messages."
810
811
OF 205.4
RV 205.4
MV 205.4
The 100 Wire Concentration Unit, ca. 1929
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 391 feet
Depicts new unit in New York office, its uses for private business customer or public branch office. Close-up shots of machinery and how it works.
810
811
OF 205.5
RV 205.5
MV 205.5
Keyboard Errors, ca. 1929
16mm black and white silent print, 221 feet
Shows several common telegraph operator errors. Slow motion used to illustrate "heavy thumb," long fingernails, misfingering, and poor rhythm all causing typographical errors.
810
811
OF 205.6
RV 205.6
MV 205.6
Accuracy First, ca. 1929
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 250 feet
How a Western Union operator's errors in transcribing and transmitting a message cause a customer to lose $2200 in a stock transaction based on the incorrect transmission.
810
811
OF 205.7
RV 205.7
MV 205.7
The Mechanical Call Distribution System For Receiving Telegrams By Telephone From Patrons of the Western Union Tel. Co., ca. 1930
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 283 feet
Demonstrations of calls, operators taking calls, teletype machinery.
  OF 205.8 [Relocating 14 Miles of Aerial Cable, ca. 1930]
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 658 feet
On-site process of men working outdoors next to railroad to relocate aerial cable. Includes numerous shots of giant reel of cable. Incomplete; ends abruptly.
810
811
OF 205.9
RV 205.9
MV 205.9
Speed Killers, ca. 1930
16mm black and white silent print, 259 feet
Depicts telegraph operators' bad work habits that waste time and reduce productivity.
810
811
OF 205.10
RV 205.10
MV 205.10
Gumming, ca. 1930
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 390 feet
How the gumming of telegraph tape is to be done. Bad examples of work shown first, followed by proper examples.
810
811
OF 205.11
RV 205.11
MV 205.11
Western Union Relays, Part I, ca. 1931
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 255 feet
Western Union relays, "their principle construction, characteristics, maintenance, and application." Depicts three types of relays in use at the time: two types of polar relay, and single current relay. Schematic of how relays are set up.
810
811
OF 205.12
RV 205.12
MV 205.12
Western Union Relays, Part II, ca. 1931
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 287 feet
How to clean a relay and how it properly operates. Schematics included.
810
811
OF 205.13
RV 205.13
MV 205.13
Mechanized Telegraph, ca. 1940
16mm black and white silent print, 339 feet
Depiction of modernized, efficient, mechanized telegraph system. Many explanatory titles and close-up shots of machinery.
  OF 205.14 [Odds and Ends Western Union Office Operations] ca. 1942
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 379 feet
Various types of telegraph machinery and Western Union employees operating it.
  OF 205.15 [Reperforator], ca. 1942
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 158 feet
How reperforator switching machinery operates. Incomplete: no title, no end credits.
810
811
OF 205.16
RV 205.16
MV 205.16
Reperforator Switching in Modern Telegraphy, ca. 1942
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 334 feet
" The following scenes of our Atlanta office are designed to aid in training traffic personnel in the use of reperforating equipment." Telegraph operators using machinery.
810
811
OF 205.17
RV 205.17
MV 205.17
Reperforator Switching in Modern Telegraphy, ca. 1943
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 334 feet
Depicts number of steps it takes to relay a message manually (eight steps) versus by reperforator switching (four steps). How a telegraph proceeds through the system.
804 OV 205.18 Four Employee Incentive Short Films, ca. 1980s]
3/4" videocassette, approx. 53 mins.
Four segments:
1. "Memories at 60 Hudson Street," 3 min.--nostalgic piece about history of Western Union, focusing on headquarters building in New York City. Uses archival photographs.
2. "The Difference is You," 7 min.--narration and use of archival photos linking company success to employee efforts. Emphasizes business survival as keyed to ability to keep pace with changing markets.
3. "Remember Me," 10 min.--importance of good treatment of the customer, from customer's point of view.
4. "Middle Manager as Innovator," 33 min.--How three successful middle managers have done innovative things and how managers can learn from their experiences.
804 OV 205.19 Three Employee Incentive Short Films, ca. 1980s]
3/4" videocassette, approx. 15 mins.
Three segments:
1. J. Horowitz donation to Statute of Liberty--music of Lee Greenwood singing "I'm Proud to be an American."
2. "Memories at 60 Hudson Street," 3 min.--nostalgic piece about history of Western Union, focusing on headquarters building in New York City. Uses archival photographs.
3. "The Difference is You," 7 min.--narration and use of archival photos linking company success to employee efforts. Emphasizes business survival as keyed to ability to keep pace with changing markets.
    Subseries 2: Public Relations/Promotional Films, ca.1929-1993
  OF 205.20 The Western Union Cable to Germany, ca. 1929
16mm black and white silent print, 324 feet
Cable from Emden, Germany, via Horta in the Azores. Shows route, cross sections of cable, machinery close ups.
810
811
OF 205.21 RV 205.21
MV 205.21
Business In Great Waters, ca. 1934
16mm black and white composite optical track print, 532 feet
Life on board ship which is laying cable between Newfoundland and the Azores. Many shots of shipboard cable equipment. Narrated throughout.
808 OF 205.22
RV 205.22
Telegram For America, 1951
16mm black and white composite optical track print, 727 feet
Western Union services and office operations through the years, including Storkgram, Deskfax, Call Box, Telecar, Micro-Wave. Emphasizes ease of use for modern businesses. Full credits.
  OF 205.23 Inside Western Union: The First 117 Years Are The Hardest, ca. 1967
16mm color composite optical track print, 660 feet
Office operations of Western Union. Emphasis on computer technology of the times.
  OF 205.24 [CBS News Interview], ca. 1971
16mm color composite optical track print, 120 feet
From can: "Newsfilm on Western Union featuring interviews with EDH and other employees, circa 1971." Interview with 3 Western Union employees, mentions plans for Hughes Aircraft to build 3 satellites, hard times for the company, decline in services.
  OF 205.25
RV 205.25
The Fastest Way To Get The Word Around, 1973
16mm color composite optical track print, 476 feet
Nostalgic beginnings of Western Union seen through archival footage and photographs. Segues into modernization efforts and current services: Telex, Westar, Datagram, Mailgram. Full end credits.
  OF 205.26 Westar Inaugural Transmission, July 15, 1974
16mm color silent print, 33 feet
Footage of celebrities and Western Union executives present in Los Angeles, California during Westar inaugural transmissions between Los Angeles and New York. Celebrities present: Ephraim Zimbalist, Jr., Arthur Hill, Victoria Principal, Mayor Tom Bradley.
804 OV 205.27 Western Union Inaugural Transmission, 1974
3/4" videocassette tape, 62:27 - No Audio
Video shot from behind the dais at inaugural transmission from Los Angeles to New York and back via Westar. Television celebrities, Mayor Tom Bradley, Western Union executives appear.
  OF 205.28 National Women's Speak Out Seminar, ca. 1975
16mm color composite optical track print, 138 feet
First National Women's Speak Out Seminar, sponsored by Western Union. Meeting of women from 15 national women's groups at a one-day conference with young college women. Russell McFall, President of Western Union, is present and speaks.
  OF 205.29 Your Public Broadcasting Satellite, ca. 1978
16mm color composite optical track print, 413 feet
Footage of Westar launch April 13, 1974; various public broadcasting stations and programs nationwide. Full credits.
  OF 205.30 [From Wire to Westar], ca. 1970s
16mm color composite optical track print, 136 feet
[35mm elements exist for this film]
Historical images of telegraphy and Western Union products interspersed with modern systems: Westar, InfoMaster, microwave towers, Telex, TWX, network television programming, electronic mail, SICOM, INFOCOM, DATACOM, Response Phone, NewsAlert, Hotline, Spacetel.
  OV 205.31 [Betty Furness: Companies Ripping Off Mailgram Look], ca. 1980s
3/4" videocassette tape
Full news program on Channel 4, WNBC, New York. Complaints about Mailgram look-alikes.
  OV 205.32 [Betty Furness: Western Union Money Transfer Service], 10/8/81
3/4" videocassette tape, 10:00
Western Union Money Transfer system, as tested by Betty and her daughter. Segment from NBC's "Today" show.
  OV 205.33 [Betty Furness: Mailgram], 9/22/87
1/2" VHS videocassette tape
Full "Live at Five" news program from WNBC New York. Furness sequence at end discusses slow delivery of Mailgrams.
  OV 205.34 [Betty Furness: Telegram], ca. 1987
1/2" VHS videocassette tape
Nostalgic look at telegram service, past and present, from NBC's "Today" show. Transcript available in processing file.
805 OV 205.35 [Singing Telegram Story], 2/10/93
1/2" VHS videocassette tape
Full news program on Channel 4, WNBC, New York. Segment at end is on 60th anniversary of the singing telegram, including interview with originator. Uses archival photos and film clips.
  OV 205.36 [Westar Satellite]
3/4" videocassette tape, 10:15
St. Louis, Missouri, television program interview of William B. Payne, Area Vice-President of Western Union. Discusses benefits of and expanded services through Westar satellite. Videoconferencing, Braillegram, newspapers.
  OV 205.37
PAL format
Braillegrams, 1975
3/4" videocassette tape
1975 WNBC interview.
    Subseries 3: Television Commercials, ca. 1974-1991
  OF 205.38 [Mailgram Commercial]
16mm color composite optical track print, 77 feet
Depicts Western Union from Pony Express days to modern times.
  OV 205.39 [Wall Street Journal Uses Westar, 11/75]
3/4" videocassette, 00:30
Television commercial for Wall Street Journal emphasizing speed of satellite-transmitted information gets the news on the stand faster. Does not mention Western Union or Westar.
  OF 205.40 [Three Television Commercials, ca. 1974]
16mm composite optical track print, 146 feet
Compilation roll of 3 television commercials:
1. Gift America
2. Telegram, Mailgram [animated]
3. Mailgram [animated]
  OF 205.41 [Five Television Commercials, ca. 1975]
16mm composite optical track print, 225 feet
Compilation roll of 5 commercials:
1. National Women's Speak Out Seminar sponsored by Western Union.
2. Modernization of office procedures, featuring actor Richard Mulligan as spokesman. [35mm elements exist for this commercial.]
3. Telex as cheaper alternative to long-distance telephone calls, featuring actor Richard Mulligan as spokesman.
4. Office of the future, featuring actor Richard Mulligan as spokesman.
5. Mailgram delivery at home
  OF 205.42 [Two Television Commercials - Western Union Billion Dollar Modernization], ca. 1975
16mm composite optical track print, 111 feet
Compilation roll of 2 commercials:
1. National Women's Speak Out Seminar sponsored by Western Union.
2. Modernization of office procedures, featuring actor Richard Mulligan as spokesman. [35mm elements exist for this commercial.]
  OF 205.43 [Four Television Commercials - Western Union services], ca. 1975
16mm color composite optical track print, 253 feet
Compilation roll of 4 commercials:
1. National Women's Speak Out Seminar sponsored by Western Union.
2. Modernization of office procedures, featuring actor Richard Mulligan as spokesman. [35mm elements exist for this commercial.]
3. Telex as cheaper alternative to long-distance telephone calls, featuring actor Richard Mulligan as spokesman.
4. Office of the future, featuring actor Richard Mulligan as spokesman. [35mm]
  OV 205.44 [Western Union-Westar, 11/8/77]
3/4" videocassette, 02:15
Promotes largest coast-to-coast televised national sales conference from Atlanta to 12 other cities through Westar.
  OV 205.45 [Singing Telegram - Holiday, December 1980]
3/4" videocassette, 00:60 sec.
Chicago-area television commercial for singing telegrams, emphasizing Christmas/New Years.
  OV 205.46 [Singing Telegram - Mother's Day, 1983]
3/4" videocassette, 00:30
Los Angeles-area television commercial for singing telegrams, emphasizing Mother's Day.
806 OV 205.47 [Singing Telegrams Are Back, ca. 1990]
3/4" videocassette, 00:30
Chicago-area television commercial for singing telegrams.
  OV 205.48 Western Union Presentation Tape, 3/5/91
3/4" videocassette, 3 mins.
Compilation of Spanish-language commercials for Western Union Money Transfer services. Three commercials, two versions each, one with translation captions, one without: "Susana," "Farias-Mex.," and "Farias-USA."
    Subseries 4: Acquired Films, ca. 1946-1989
  OF 205.49 [All In The Family television program segment], undated
16mm color composite optical track print [faded], 224 feet
Incomplete program featuring a telegram as part of plot.
  OF 205.50 [Westar V Pre-Launch], undated
16mm color silent print, 89 feet
NASA-KSC film of preparing satellite for launch. Also footage of launch with narration.
  OF 205.51 A Hundred Years of Morse, ca. 1946
16mm black and white silent print, 215 feet
British film: "A GB Screen Services Production - British Acoustic Film." [no sound]. Fictionalized representation of story of early telegraphy, to telegraphic services of the time.
  OF 205.52 Spanning the World, ca. 1946
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 278 feet
No sound. British film produced for Cable & Wireless, Ltd. Full title and credits. London street scenes. Electra House [Cable & Wireless headquarters?]. Emphasizes facsimile for transmission of photographs through worldwide press services.
810
811
OF 205.53
RV 205.53
MV 205.53
Facsimile, 1946
16mm color composite optical track print, 402 feet
Demonstration of facsimile transmission on various Finch Facsimile Co. machines. Animated schematics of how a fax machine works. Full credits.
  OF 205.54 Newspapers By Radio, ca. 1957
16mm black and white silent print, 398 feet
Finch Facsimile Company promotional film on uses of radio signals to send facsimile transmissions of newspaper stories. Close ups of machinery. Ends abruptly, no end credits.
  OF 205.55 [Delta 101/ Westar A' Canning Operation], ca. 1973
16mm color silent work print [faded], 121 feet
National Air and Space Administration - Kennedy Space Center film on process of "canning" the Westar satellite in preparation for launch.
  OF 205.56 Head Shots for Cable Film/Cable Film, Final Edited Version, ca. 1974
Super 8mm color silent print.
Composite reel joined by the Archives Center. Two films on how cable is made and used. No intertitles to indicate if cable is telegraphic or bridge cables.
  OF 205.57 [Connecting America], 1978
16mm color composite optical track print, 641 feet
Creighton University Centennial Celebration film. Story of linking telegraph lines to the West Coast during the Civil War. John and Edward Creighton and Creighton family history heavily featured.
806
808
OV 205.58
RV 205.58
Westar V Launch, June 8, 1982
3/4" videocassette tape, 9:40
NASA-Kennedy Space Center, Florida footage of actual launch, how satellite is prepared for launch and positioned in space.
811 OF 205.59
MV 205.59
Voices From The Deep: The Anzcan Cable Story, 1984
16mm color composite optical track print, 916 feet
Scenic film of process of laying cable from Sydney, Australia, to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada via Fiji. Excellent "Facts and Figures" section at end detailing cable diameter, length, depth, circuit capacity, and repeater spacing.
806 OV 205.60 Cablegrams, [ca. 1980s]
1/2" VHS videocassette tape
Advertisement for a videotaped theater performance preview service. No direct connection to Western Union.
  OV 205.61 Western Union
1/2" VHS videocassette tape
Tape copy of 1941 20th Century Fox film.
  OV 205.62 Speedwell and the Telegraph, ca. 1988
1/2" VHS videocassette tape, 60 min.
Produced by Historic Speedwell, Inc. Theatrical production about Alfred Vail, Speedwell Iron Works, Speedwell Village, Morristown, NJ.
  OV 205.63 Smithsonian Institution, Information Age, 3/13/89
3/4" videocassette tape
Video copy of original Western Union films, "X Messages," "Gumming," and "Speed Killers." Burned-in time codes present.
    Subseries 5: Films Documenting Corporate Activities, [ca. 1928-1994]
  OF 205.64 A New Home for Western Union, ca. 1928
16mm black and white silent camera original reversal, 335 feet
Depiction of ongoing construction of 24-story skyscraper for Western Union headquarters at 60 Hudson Street, New York City. Describes what will be in building; size; number of employees; construction details; views looking north, south, east, and west of site; the last rivet, etc.
807 OV 205.65-1
OV 205.65-2
[Informational Seminar, 12/12/83]
Two 3/4" videocassette tapes
Seminar by Al J. Chisholm, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for Western Union on AT&T divestiture and its consequences.
  OV 205.66 [Western Union Restructuring, 10/87]
3/4" videocassette tape, 13:08
LeBow Industries, Inc.'s plans for restructuring Western Union. Emphasizes company history, problems, possible solutions.
  OV 205.67 [Amman Speech to Western Union Employees, 11/15/88]
3/4" videocassette tape, 62:18
Company president speaking to employees regarding financial losses and strategies for restructuring.
  OV 205.68 Western Union: First in Telecommunications, ca. 1980s
1/2" VHS videocassette tape, 25:00
Made for Western Union employees by the National Joint Labor/Management Board. Discusses various services of Western Union, then moves to corporate concerns with Local 1177 officials and Western Union president, who discusses financial position and plans for the company.
  OV 205.69 Gone With The Western Union, 1994
1/2" VHS videocassette tape, 11:03
Takeoff on GONE WITH THE WIND depicting companies and persons involved in 1994 Western Union takeover bid process.
806
817

OF 205.70.1-5

MT 205.70

The Florida Experiment, 1969
16 mm training film which includes outtakes; one magnetic tape; one 1/2 “ VHS, and one DVD

Film documents a pilot program being conducted in the Florida division of Western Union. This pilot program implemented a new stream-lined single-line management system that extended down through all management levels. The program proved so successful in the Florida division that the Western Union Telegraph Company President implemented this stream-lined management system throughout the entire Western Union Telegraph Company. With the new system, the company reduced its management divisions across the country from 30 to 18 which also resulted in significant management cost reductions.

806 RV 205.70 The Florida Experiment, 1969
817 13 The Florida Experience, storyboard documents, 1969
  14 The Florida Experience, slides and notes, 1969
  15 The Florida Experience, original script, 1969
  16 The Florida Experiment, 1969
RDVD 205.70
    Subseries 6: Microfilm
809   Board of Directors Meetings (includes New York and Mississippi Valley Printing Telegraph), 1862-1961
    Executive Committee Minutes, 1864-1951
    Subsidiaries, 1851-1856
    Board of Directors, 1949-1956

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Last Update: 22 Feb 2012

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