Civil War Telegrams

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ElaineSoCal
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Civil War Telegrams

#1

Post by ElaineSoCal »

I read this article in Sunday's Los Angeles Times, and it really captured my imagination. They are crowdsourcing the transcription. When I need a distraction from the election (soon!) I'm going to give it a try.

Huntington Library sets out to decode thousands of Civil War telegrams hidden for a century: 'It's mind-boggling'

The 15,971 telegrams — hidden in a wooden foot locker for more than a century — scrolled like a Twitter feed through the Civil War. The messages from the Union side, many tapped out in code to elude Confederate forces, carried the urgings and reflections of Abraham Lincoln, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and other prominent players. But most echo with the thoughts and schemes of colonels, infantrymen and lesser-knowns that offer a peek into the bureaucracy and machinery of war.
:snippity:
The telegrams were part of papers kept by Thomas T. Eckert, a Lincoln confidant and head of the U.S. military telegraph office at the War Department. The Huntington has started a Decoding the Civil War crowdsourcing campaign that relies on volunteers using cipher charts to unravel secret texts. So far, more than 2,100 “citizen archivists” and war buffs worldwide have transcribed less than one-third of the collection, which includes encrypted messages sent in grids.
:snippity:
In a telegram discussing troop movements, Gen. William T. Sherman drifted into sorrow: “my eldest boy Willie, my California boy, nine years old died here yesterday of fever and dysentery contracted at Vicksburg. His loss to me is more than words can express.” Some are less stoic. A telegraph sent by J.W. Carver from Point Lookout in Maryland informs Eckert: “Family matters require my immediate attention at home for a few days. If not attended to at once I am utterly destroyed.”
:snippity:
...The project still has an open invitation for volunteers.

Article Here: http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/ar ... story.html

Project Here: https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/zoo ... -civil-war

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ZekeB
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Re: Civil War Telegrams

#2

Post by ZekeB »

I dunno. It seems to me that decoding those old messages should be a breeze. Any time you don't have a rolling encryption code a simple home computer should be able to descramble the text in a matter of seconds.
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Sugar Magnolia
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Re: Civil War Telegrams

#3

Post by Sugar Magnolia »

ZekeB wrote:I dunno. It seems to me that decoding those old messages should be a breeze. Any time you don't have a rolling encryption code a simple home computer should be able to descramble the text in a matter of seconds.
Even from a pdf of a hand-written page? That just seems to me to be the sort of thing that real human eyes have to fall on.

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ElaineSoCal
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Re: Civil War Telegrams

#4

Post by ElaineSoCal »

Sugar Magnolia wrote:
ZekeB wrote:I dunno. It seems to me that decoding those old messages should be a breeze. Any time you don't have a rolling encryption code a simple home computer should be able to descramble the text in a matter of seconds.
Even from a pdf of a hand-written page? That just seems to me to be the sort of thing that real human eyes have to fall on.
I'm with Sugar on this. Tech is wonderful but there are times I just dont want tech. I guess that's why I still have newspapers delivered to my home. I could read them online but the experience isn't the same.

While the codes may be interesting, for me it's more the content and the "feel" of what the telegrams say, particularly from that time in history.

arock
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Re: Civil War Telegrams

#5

Post by arock »

There's a similar project underway to pull weather observations from old whaling logbooks. Not quite as detailed as deciphering coded telegrams.
The 19th-century whaling logbooks that could help scientists understand climate change
Maritime historians, climate scientists and ordinary citizens are coming together on a project to study the logbooks of 19th-century whaling ships to better understand modern-day climate change and Arctic weather patterns.

The crew of whaling ships kept meticulous daily logbooks of weather conditions during their often years-long voyages searching the globe for whales, valued for their light-giving oil, said Michael Dyer, a senior maritime historian at the New Bedford whaling museum in Massachusetts, which is supplying much of the data.
:snippity:
The project, called Old Weather: Whaling, is led by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The whaling museum is transcribing and digitising its own logbooks, as well as original data sources from the Nantucket Historical Association, Martha’s Vineyard museum, Mystic Seaport in Connecticut, and the New Bedford free public library.

The digitised logbooks are being posted online so ordinary “citizen-scientists” can help researchers sift through the vast amounts of information.
https://whaling.oldweather.org/#/

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