Want to Read Abraham Lincoln’s Telegrams? There’s an App for That!


October 11, 2011—A new history application for the Apple iPad, Lincoln Telegrams, produced by NC State faculty and graduate students is now available as a free download. The application includes 88 digitized telegram memos written by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864, along with historical annotations presenting analysis conducted by NC State students.

“It’s the first of its kind,” said Dr. John Lee, associate professor of social studies and middle grades education and research fellow at the Friday Institute. “The Lincoln Telegram iPad application, along with related blog and wiki content, is a user-driven learning tool that invites teachers, students and the general public to investigate topics related to Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War.”

In addition to providing historical information to the community, the application also offers teachers a wide range of curriculum-related topics for the classroom. History students can use the program to explore Lincoln’s use of telegrams in the Union war effort during the Civil War. Science students can examine the technology of the telegraph and the use of dielectric electrical insulators on telegraph wires. And, English students can examine the communicative forms of writing that were used in telegram writing.

“Teachers can use the annotations in the Lincoln Telegrams app to help their students understand the context and basic information contained in Lincoln’s memos,” said Jonathan List, project technical director and programmer and currently a social studies doctoral student. “By using this app in the classroom, educational professionals can integrate mobile technology into their lessons.”

The iPad application is a product of the larger Lincoln Telegrams Project which began in 2009 after a visit to the U.S. National Archives. Microfilm images of 324 memos written by Lincoln to telegraph operators in the War Department between March 10, 1864 and April 12, 1865 were obtained from the Library of Congress and later digitized for the project. Most of the telegrams were war-related, however, some are personal messages from Lincoln to family and acquaintances and offer insight into lesser-known aspects of Lincoln’s life.

The Lincoln Telegram iPad application was released by NC State graduate students in the Digital History and Pedagogy Project last spring and has over 2000 downloads to date. Transcriptions and analysis, published on a Lincoln Telegrams website, were completed by the students.

Dr. John Lee was named a Friday Institute Research Fellow this past spring. He is currently working on Digital History and Pedagogy Project and the New Literacies Collaborative.

Written by Cathy DiGrazio, senior, communications

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