How America Became a Network Nation, at Hagley

Plus: Peter and The Wolf performed by Delaware Dance Company, Walk for Autism and the Hair Affair in Dover.

Can You Hear Me Now?

The history of the telegraph and telephone—the world’s first two electrical communications networks—contradicts assumptions many hold that government regulation is an impediment to innovation. Hagley Museum and Library welcomes Columbia University professor Richard R. John on April 23 for his Author Talk, “Telegraphs for the 1 Percent, Telephones for the People: How America Became a Network Nation.” “Network Nation” places the history of telecommunications within the broader context of American politics, business and culture. In the early 20th century the lightly regulated telegraph remained a technological backwater and accessible only to a small elite. In contrast, the highly regulated telephone became a technological powerhouse and available to ordinary Americans across the nation, transforming our culture in the process. John will illustrate his talk with dozens of cartoons, advertisements, and photographs. John used the rare journal, the Review of the Telegraph and Telephone (later combined into the Factory) in Hagley’s library for his book, Network Nation: Inventing American Telecommunications (2010). Network Nation received the Ralph Gomory book prize from the Business History Conference in 2011. Copies will be available for sale at the event. John specializes in the history of business, technology, communications and American political development. He is a professor of history at Columbia University in New York City. He received his master’s and doctorate from Harvard University. John is author of “Spreading the News: The American Postal System from Franklin to Morse” (1995) and editor of the “Industry and Society” monograph book series sponsored by the Hagley Museum and Library. The talk begins at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Reservations are requested. Call 658-2400, ext. 243, or email The lecture will be held in the Soda House auditorium. Use Hagley’s Buck Road East entrance off Del. 100 in Wilmington.


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