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Indiana telegraph and telephone collection

Identifier: L223

Scope and Contents

This collection includes correspondence, blueprints and Indianapolis maps, legal documents and reports from telephone and telegraph companies lawyers insurance companies and city officials in Indianapolis, Indiana ranging from 1893 to 1920 regarding telegraph and telephone right of ways, installation, legal and business matters.


  • 1893-1920, undated

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Historical Note

The telegraph was first demonstrated in 1838 by Samuel Morse. Congress funded the first telegraph lines in 1843 and the first news (the nomination of Henry Clay for president) was transmitted in 1844. Western Union built its first transcontinental telegraph line in 1861, mainly along railroad rights-of-way.

"Until 1877, all rapid long-distance communication depended upon the telegraph. That year, a rival technology developed that would again change the face of communication -- the telephone. By 1879, patent litigation between Western Union and the infant telephone system was ended in an agreement that largely separated the two services."

The first telephones in Indianapolis were installed in 1877 by Wales and Company, an Indianapolis coal supply firm. Indiana District Telephone Company, the state's first telephone company, was organized in Dec. 1878. It became the Telephone Exchange Company of Indianapolis in 1880. Central Union Telephone Company, Indiana Bell Telephone Company's direct predecessor, was organized i n 1883. At that time, there were three telephone companies serving Indianapolis. Central Union and four other Indiana telephone companies were consolidated into Indiana Bell in 1920.


Bodenhamer, David J., David Gordon, and Robert Graham Barrows, eds. "Ameritech." In Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, p. 260-261. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1994.

"The History of the Electric Telegraph and Telegraphy." Accessed April 4, 2016.


0.5 Cubic Feet (1 manuscript box, 1 small manuscript box)

Language of Materials



This collection is arranged alphabetically.

Custodial History

This collection was received by Rare Books and Manuscripts as a donation.


No further additions are expected.

Processing Information

Collection processing completed 2016/04/04 by Edythe Huffman. EAD finding aid created 2016/04/04 by Edythe Huffman.
Indiana telegraph and telephone collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rare Books and Manuscripts Repository

140 North Senate Avenue
Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 U.S.A.