Smithsonian Institution Archives
P.O. Box 37012
Capital Gallery Building, Suite 3000, MRC 507
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
2.2 linear meters
This collection contains papers concerning the invention and development of the telegraph by Samuel F. B. Morse, Alfred Vail, and others, especially Vail's work with telegraph instruments and operation of telegraph stations, patent litigation, and Vail's publications concerning the telegraph. It also includes correspondence between Alfred and George Vail concerning their investment in the early telegraph enterprise and correspondence between Alfred Vail, Morse, Amos Kendall, and others, from 1837, relating to development of the telegraph, litigation and patents, administration of companies, especially the Magnetic Telegraph Company, the Morse-Joseph Henry dispute, and litigation between Morse, Francis O. J. Smith, and Henry O'Reilly. There is correspondence between Alfred Vailand many persons concerning construction of lines and training operators, with especially valuable information concerning construction of the Washington-Baltimore line. There are some Alfred Vail research notes and correspondence relating to insulation and insulators, receiving magnets and keys, and laying line in lead pipe. It includes account books, copies of contracts, agreements and assignments, and patent applications, extensive telegraph journals, data accumulated by Alfred Vail concerning rates and telegraph lines, correspondence, returned questionnaires, and other items relating to Vail's publications, especially The Electro-Magnetic Telegraph, and The Register of Electro-Magnetic Telegraph Companies, scrapbooks kept by Alfred Vail and his wife, Amanda, relating to the history of the telegraph. Also included is correspondence of Amanda Vail and of Alfred Vail's sons, Stephen and James Cummings Vail and publications of the sons, all relating to Vail's role in telegraph development and to the Smithsonian's collection of Vail telegraph artifacts and its exhibition by the United States National Museum.