Telegraphy and the “New Woman” in Late-Nineteenth-Century Europe

  • Simone M. MüllerEmail author
Part of the History of Computing book series (HC)


This article explores the history of telegraphy in the late nineteenth century at the intersection of class and gender. It brings together approaches from social history and the history of finance with communication studies. The article demonstrates that our understanding of telegraphy as a masculine undertaking in terms of science, technology, and technology-in-use needs to be expanded. Contemporary discourses of telegraphy included practices of exclusion for the woman engineer and the female telegraph user based on constructions of femininity as “the other.” Yet, telegraphy also afforded women new avenues of independence, which resulted in an expansion of the domestic sphere. Middle-class women in particular used the opportunities telegraphy offered as a means for employment as a female telegraph clerk or investment in telegraph shares. At the end of the nineteenth century, telegraphy thus helped the “new woman” carve out a new social geography for herself.


Late Nineteenth Century Domestic Sphere Submarine Cable Female Investor Economic History Review 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



I would like to thank Valérie Schafer, Benjamin Thierry, and Torsten Kathke for their invaluable support and feedback.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of HistoryUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany
  2. 2.Albert-Ludwigs-UniversityFreiburgGermany

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