Telegraph Key

Description (Brief)
Telegraph keys are electrical on-off switches used to send messages in Morse code. Radio, or "wireless" as is was then called, played only a minor role in World War I, but land-line telegraphy connected commanders to troops in the trenches. According to the Western Union catalog, "This Key [was] picked up in a German Post Command Dug-Out on the Western Front near Fey-en-Haye, France on Sept. 13, 1918, after the first day of American operations to eliminate the St. Mihiel salient. Received from E.T. Rickard, Radio Detail, 307 F.A. Headquarters Co, American Expeditionary Force."
Currently not on view
Object Name
telegraph key
date made
ca 1917
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
wood (overall material)
overall: 1 3/4 in x 2 in x 5 1/4 in; 4.445 cm x 5.08 cm x 13.335 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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Work and Industry: Electricity
Telegraph Keys
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from Western Union Corporation

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