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Telegraph Messenger Boys: Crossing the Borders between History of Technology and Human Geography

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Abstract:

Historians of telegraphy have traditionally focused on the system-builders who invented wire communications technologies and incorporated them into profit-making enterprises. Geographers of communications have traditionally traced the changes that the telegraph network wrought on the rank-size of cities and the speed of business. Both have ignored the history of the telegraph messenger boys and the “lived geography” of the telegraph network. This article summarizes a study of telegraph messengers as both active components of technological systems and laboring agents within produced urban spaces, bringing together the fields of both history of technology and human geography.

Keywords: communications technology; historical geography; labor geography; telegraph network; urban geography

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/0033-0124.5502002

Publication date: May 1, 2003

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