CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER
CONNECTING PEOPLE TO IDEAS AND TO EACH OTHER

Archiving the Civil War’s Text Messages

A Massive Crowdsourcing Project Is Digitizing Thousands of Coded Union Telegrams, and Unearthing Astonishing “Emails”

The Thomas T. Eckert Papers—consisting of records, ledgers, and cipher books kept by the head of the War Department’s military telegraph office—came to us at the Huntington Library four years ago via a long and winding road. The collection includes nearly 16,000 telegrams reporting on the U.S. Civil War as it happened, and they are already beginning to tell scholars astonishing things.

The Eckert Papers were initially sold at a private auction in 2009. The sellers were apparently descendants of Eckert’s, and the auction sale was a surprise, because the papers …

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