Telegraph Sounder

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Description (Brief)
Telegraph sounders convert electrical pulses into audible sounds and are used to receive Morse code messages. The message travels as a series of electrical pulses through a wire. Short pulses make a dot, slightly longer pulses make a dash. The sequence of dots and dashes represent letters and numbers. The pulses energize the sounder’s electromagnets which move a lever-arm. The arm makes a loud “click” when it strikes a crossbar and the operator translates the pattern of sounds into the original language. Charles Williams, Jr. of Boston began making telegraph instruments in the late 1850s and by the 1870s had diversified into a full range of electrical devices. Well regarded as a craftsman, he made many early telephone instruments for Alexander Graham Bell in the late 1870s.
Currently not on view
Charles Williams, Jr.
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
brass (overall material)
rubber (overall material)
overall: 3 3/8 in x 4 3/4 in x 3 1/4 in; 8.5725 cm x 12.065 cm x 8.255 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
collector/donor number
Credit Line
from Western Union Corporation
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Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Sounders
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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