Start Your Brilliant Career at Dallas Telegraph College — c. 1900

by Paula Bosse


by Paula Bosse

The Dallas Telegraph College opened in 1889 and admitted both men and women as students (if not from the beginning, certainly by the early years of the new century).

dallas-telegraph-college_1889-directory1889 ad (click to see larger image)

Below, the text of a 1908 ad — published in a San Antonio newspaper in hopes of drawing students to Dallas from around the state — rather optimistically promised hard-working students the possibility of earning an “enormous” salary and maybe even becoming the head of a railroad!

The Dallas Telegraph College is a school of more than state reputation. Prof. L. C. Robinson is president, with J. E. Hyle as superintendent. As is well known, telegraphy is not only one of the pleasantest of studies, but offers a brilliant career to the man who ‘makes good.’ A great many railroad presidents started as operators. The men who have made good now head railroad systems at enormous salaries. What one man has done, another may do. The Dallas Telegraph College has been a chartered institution for fifty [sic — this should be “twenty”] years. Why not send for one of their beautiful catalogues?

dallas_telegraph_college1908 ad

1908, via DeGolyer Library, SMU

According to a 1912 article by Lewis N. Hale on Texas schools and colleges in Texas Magazine, the students learned to ply their trade by tapping (…as it were) into the actual railroad telegraph lines which, rather conveniently, ran right through their classrooms. A very murky photo from that Texas Magazine article is below.


The goal of students was to secure employment in a nice, well-appointed office, such as Dallas’ Western Union headquarters, shown below in 1914.

western-union_trust-bldg_1914_DPLvia Dallas Public Library

Next stop: an enormous salary!


Sources & Notes

Top ad (“Learn Telegraphy”) from 1904. Second ad from 1889 (from the pages of the Dallas city directory). Third ad (with Guild Building address) from 1894.

1908 photo showing students standing in front of the building from the George W. Cook Dallas/Texas Image Collection, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University; more info on this card is here.

Western Union office photograph — “[Western Union Telegraph Company interior main office – Trust building at 801 Main Street]” (1914) — is from the DPL Van Orden Western Union Telegraph collection of the Dallas Public Library Dallas History and Archives Division  (Call Number PA2007-2/2).

An entertaining read on the history of telegraph service in Texas by Mike Cox can be found here.

The Handbook of Texas entry on telegraph service in Texas can be found here.

Absolutely EVERYTHING that you (and Ed McMahon) would ever want to know about the telegraph and telegraphy is here.


Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.