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Grant number like: FA-53716-08

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Richard R. John
Columbia University (Chicago, IL 60612-4305)

Fellowships for University Teachers
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$25,200 (approved)
$25,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2008 – 6/30/2008

Network Nation: Ideals and Institutions in American Telecommunications, 1840-1920

My project is an archivally based study of the formative era of telecommunications in the United States (1840-1920). My theme is the influence of civic ideals and governmental institutions on the principal network providers (Western Union for the telegraph; Bell for the telephone). By expanding our understanding of early American telecommunications to embrace culture and politics as well as technology and economics, it points us toward an alternative genealogy of the information age, and helps us better understand some of the foundational principles that define us as a nation, while illuminating how our memory of these principles has shaped our expectations about the future.