The Science Museum in London has announced the opening of Information Age, a ground-breaking new communications gallery that will open in September 2014. Supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, the gallery will celebrate key developments in communication technologies over the last 200 years and incorporate a diverse range of personal stories to reveal how our lives have been transformed.

As part of the gallery development, activity is currently underway to capture the personal accounts of those who have been directly involved with or impacted by significant events in the history of communication and information technology. The Science Museum is working in partnership with organisations and volunteers across the UK to collect relevant examples of historical and contemporary information.

A telegram display in the ‘Cable’ area of the Information Age gallery will help convey some of these important stories. The Science Museum would like to gather a selection of physical and scanned telegrams from across the UK that will be exhibited and possibly included in their permanent collection.

To capture a truly national perspective, six museums, including the Science Museum, have each recruited volunteer community collectors to assist with identifying potential telegrams. These volunteers will work within their local community and run collecting days at each partner museum over the summer of 2013, where members of the public are invited to share their telegrams for scanning.

The museums taking part in the project are:

  • National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh
  • Riverside Museum in Glasgow
  • The Cardiff Story in Cardiff
  • Porthcurno Telegraph Museum in Cornwall
  • National Railway Museum in York
  • Science Museum in London

We look forward to hearing from anyone who would like to bring in any telegrams they have at home (from Victorian times up until 1980s). The topic of the telegram can be anything from national, international or local events to personal and family events.

The length of the message is not relevant – it is the story within (or around it) that matters.

The museums are first and foremost looking to scan the telegrams, so no donation is required. If people are willing to donate the originals, further arrangements can be made.

The Science Museum events are being held in the Dana Centre on 28 and 29 June, 11.00 – 16.00. Please contact Maja Neske at [email protected] for more information.

The National Museum of Scotland event is taking place on 20 July, 10.00 – 17.00. Please contact Kirke Kook at [email protected] for more information.

The Riverside Museum event is being held on 27 July. Please contact Elena Trimarchi at [email protected] for more information.

The National Railway Museum event is taking place on 28 July. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

The Porthcurno Telegraph Museum event is taking place on 31 July. Please contact John Wallis at [email protected] for more information.

The Cardiff Story event is taking place on 13 July. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

The criteria for telegrams the Science Museum and its partners would like to acquire includes:

  • Telegrams that reflect the changing nature of communication and interaction between people
  • Telegrams that reflect key events in British or global history e.g. World Wars, Wall Street Crash, Coronation of the Queen
  • Telegrams that provide further context around existing objects in museum collections
  • Telegrams that show how the format of the received telegram has changed over time, e.g. from written transcription of a coded message (needle or morse) to a printed message, either printed slip (tape) pasted down on a pre-printed blank telegram form or printed by a page printer on blank paper.
  • Telegrams that show examples of the wide variety of content of typical telegrams, both in business and private messages. e.g. business (appointments, orders, cancellations, etc); personal (illness, congratulations, urgent requests, etc); armed services (missing or killed in action); greetings (weddings etc)

Please contact Maja Neske at [email protected] for more information.