Press Release – Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln"
Morse Telegraph Club, Inc.
29150 Windsor Rd.
Culpeper, VA. 22701
"Morse Telegraph Club members play a key role in Spielberg's Lincoln"
Members of the Morse Telegraph Club, an association of retired railroad and commercial telegraphers, historians, radio amateurs and others with an interest in the history and traditions of telegraphy and the telegraph industry played an important role in the production of "Lincoln."
According to James Wades (WB8SIW), International President of the Morse Telegraph Club, several members provided period telegraph instruments for use in the construction of the War Department Set. Most notably, Tom Perera (W1TP), Derek Cohn (WB0TUA), Kevin Saville (N7JKD), and Roger Reinke provided sufficient telegraph instruments to equip the sixteen operating positions portrayed at the War Department.
Jim Wilson (K4BAV) and his son, Matt Wilson had minor roles as Extras. Jim also worked with production staff and the actors to explain telegraph technology and the role of the telegrapher.
Jim Wades (WB8SIW) who was employed as a Technical Advisor for the production, worked with set designers over a period of months to develop the War Department telegraph scenes. Mr. Wades coordinated the process of procuring the necessary instruments and served as a historical consultant as the telegraph scenes were developed.
Nine of the sixteen telegraph positions depicted in the War Department were fully operational. These instruments could be operated in any combination through the use of a specialized computer program and terminal units custom built by Mr. Wades for the process. When necessary, a hand key could be inserted in the individual telegraph loops so messages could be improvised.
Mr. Wades worked with the producers to develop historically appropriate message traffic that fit the sequence of the script. However, as the movie was edited, the final product evolved into a more generic facsimile of Morse traffic. However, those with a background in land line telegraphy will hear the occasional snippet of message traffic in the audio track of the movie.
"We are very pleased that Mr. Spielberg and his staff took the time to treat the telegraph with dignity and respect," said Mr. Wades. "It is a pleasure to be associated with a high quality motion picture that can genuinely be classified as not just entertainment, but as a work of art," he added.
The Morse Telegraph Club was founded in 1943 to perpetuate the knowledge, history and traditions of telegraphy. Chapters are located throughout the United States and Canada. Members are actively involved in a variety of projects including presenting talks on the history of telegraphy to historical societies, schools, and Amateur Radio organizations. Chapters throughout the US and Canada have worked with public museums to build historically correct telegraph exhibits. Members also regularly demonstrate telegraphy at historical events throughout North America.
Complete coverage of the making of the telegraph scenes in "Lincoln" will be published in an upcoming issue of "Dots and Dashes," the official journal of the Morse Telegraph Club.
For more information or interviews, please contact:
Morse Telegraph Club, Inc.
Vernon Ikeda – VE2MBS/VE2QQ
RAC Blog Editor/RAC E-News/Web News Bulletin Editor