Employee Magazines Deliver the 4-1-1 on Telephone Technology

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

In a flurry of February activity, our cataloging team reached a remarkable milestone! 

Our online catalog now stocks over 500 different employee magazines, the channels of communication created periodically by and for the members of a workplace. This number surpasses our holdings of 300 titles reported ten years ago. At that time, the role of humor was pondered as one of the features commonly used by these publications for the internal purpose of building staff morale. Our latest acquisitions reveal the capacity of this medium to project externally the pride of innovation.

Employee magazines document the status of a given company and reflect the development of its industry over time. Many of our recent acquisitions relate to the Bell System, including a substantial run of New Jersey Bell from 1929-1971. Its cover portrays advances in American telephone technology, such as the Bell Laboratories airplane equipped with radio telephone in June 1929. Operator-assisted switchboards of the 1930s give way to electronic switching systems in the 1960s, when phone lines were diverted from voice to data transmission.

Western Electric served as the main manufacturer of equipment for the Bell System, such as this array of rotary phones featured by New Jersey Bell in October 1955. The dial was incorporated into the handset on the Trimline model, touted by Michigan Bell in November 1963. Another model, the Touch-Tone, made its debut just three months later.

You may find further details on employee magazines in our online catalog or by searching the phrase “Employees' magazines, newsletters, etc.” in the Hagley Digital Archives.

Alice Hanes is the Technical Services Librarian at Hagley Museum and Library