Cyrus Field & the Atlantic Cable 1866

Cyrus Field (standing, fourth from right) organized a British-American enterprise that led to this dramatic event captured by artist Robert Dudley aboard the steamship Great Eastern. Having just laid a telegraph cable from Ireland to Newfoundland, the crew retrieved the broken end of a cable lost the previous summer. We see the moment when a message came back from Ireland.  It worked! Cables could cross oceans, and be picked up and repaired.

Submarine telegraphy was a major innovation, essential to today’s telecommunications network. Field’s character and persistence, combined with the expertise of British scientists and engineers, made this remarkable achievement possible.

Documents are from the Cyrus Field Collection in the Archives Center, gift of Isabella Field Judson. Objects are also from Isabella Field Judson unless otherwise noted.

The museum’s substantial collections on the history of submarine telegraphy have supported a number of research projects and exhibits. For instance:

Underwater Web: Cabling the Seas