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Decode Civil War Military Telegrams

CW--UnionYes, what an opportunity! The project is by the National Archives, Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens; the Papers of Abraham Lincoln at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum; North Carolina State University to digitize and transcribe the Union Army telegrams from The Thomas T. Eckert Papers. Such an undertaking needs some 75,000 volunteers to complete this project. So far there are about 981 registered volunteers so many more are needed.

The final result will provide public access to previously unavailable historical records in a format that will lead to a better understanding of communications, technology, and the course of the Civil War all from these military telegrams. This is a rare collection of 15,971 Civil War telegrams in The Thomas T. Eckert Papers. Those volunteers will use the web-based interface developed by Zooniverse to provide access to images of each telegram in the Eckert Papers to transcribe the telegrams and decode those that are partially enciphered.

CW codesWhat will make such a project even more interesting is the use of arbitraries to stand in for important words, messages were frequently scrambled, so that the text was not transmitted in the order in which it was meant to be read. There will be assistance with the codes that were used. Also, many abbreviations were used in the telegrams, and provided will be what each abbreviation stood for.

Abraham Lincoln to Ulysses S. Grant

Abraham Lincoln to Ulysses S. Grant

Some of these telegrams were between Abraham Lincoln, his Cabinet, and officers of the Union Army. It was Thomas T. Eckert, who was the Head of the United States Military Telegraph office of the War Department under President Lincoln.

So if interested click on the ‘Get Started’ button and follow the directions. You can work as many or few as you would like. This is a great way to help save valuable information about a major American historical event – the Civil War – 1861-1865.

CW-decode-4 Photos: Example of coding; letter written by Lincoln in 1864; and decoding a telegram.

Related genealogy blogs:

Civil War Letters Home

Words Used by Ancestors during the Civil War

Images from the Civil War

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