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Office of the Chief Signal Officer Letters to Signal Service Observers in Knoxville, Tenn.

 Collection
Identifier: MS-1567

The Office of the Chief Signal Officer sent these letters discussing reporting errors, budgetary issues, personnel reassignments, and changes in procedures to its observers in Knoxville, Tennessee during the 1870s and 1880s. Sergeant John K. Payne served as observer until December 31, 1879, when he was replaced by Private B. F. Hough.

The majority of the letters in this collection were sent to Payne, the Signal Service's Observer in Knoxville from the department's headquarters in Washington, D.C. between January 8, 1874 and December 19, 1876. Most of the letters discuss errors in Payne's reports, budgetary issues, personnel reassignments, and changes in recording and reporting procedures. Many of the documents are signed by H. W. Howgate (Acting Signal Officer and Assistant) and H. Jackson (Property and Disbursing Officer). A few of the letters are addressed to Payne's assistant, Private Ignatius V. Wallace, who was assigned to the station in August 1874.

This collection also houses official letters that the Signal Service sent to Private B. F. Hough, who replaced Payne in January 1880, between January 8 and December 21 of 1880. Like the correspondence addressed to Payne, these letters detail errors in Hough's reporting and discuss budgetary matters.

Dates

  • 1874 January 8-1880 December 21

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact Special Collections.

Extent

0.25 Linear Feet (3 folders)

Abstract

The Office of the Chief Signal Officer sent these letters discussing reporting errors, budgetary issues, personnel reassignments, and changes in procedures to its observers in Knoxville, Tennessee during the 1870s and 1880s. Sergeant John K. Payne served as observer until December 31, 1879, when he was replaced by Private B. F. Hough.

Biographical/Historical Note

The idea of a national weather service was initially proposed by Increase A. Lapham who wanted to find a way to distribute storm warnings and so reduce the amount of damage caused by lack of preparation. In response to Lapham's urgings, Congress passed an act on February 9, 1870 instructing the Secretary of War to conduct meteorological observations and issue storm warnings. The Secretary assigned these duties to the Signal Service Corps under Brigadier Brevet General Albert J. Myer, who built the Division of Telegrams and Reports for the Benefit of Commerce and Agriculture. Enlisted men were trained as observers and stationed around the country to monitor conditions, which were then reported to the central office in Washington, D.C. The Army, however, soon came to dislike this arrangement because observers could not be released from their duties in order to attend to military matters. The system was abandoned completely in 1890, when the Signal Corps' weather duties were transferred to the Department of Agriculture's civilian Weather Bureau.

Arrangement

This collection consists of three folders.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

Contact:
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA
865-974-4480