Morse Code and Marconigrams {Edwardians}

Morse Code and Marconigrams

As part of our Edwardian studies we have been learning all about Morse code and Marconigrams. Morse code was the invention of Samuel Morse, whilst Guglielmo Marconi developed the Marconigram.

Morse Code and Marconigrams

Who is Samuel Morse and What is Morse Code?

Samuel Morse, primarily known for his portraiture, took a change in career late in life to become a well known American inventor. He contributed to the invention of the single wire telegraph, in addition to working on the development of the Morse Code. Morse code is a simple encoding process using dots, dashes and spacers. These can be sent using both electrical impulses of varying lengths or visual signals such as flashing lights. Morse Code became the primary language of telegraph transmission.

Who is Guglielmo Marconi and What is a Marconigram?

Guglielmo Marconi was a Nobel Prize winner in Physics and was the inventor of the wireless telegraph. At the time, coded messages were sent via wires using electric impulses. Interested in radio waves, and certain they could be used for communication, Marconi used radio waves to send messages through the air, without the need of any wires at all. He was the first person to send messages across the Atlantic Ocean. These messages were still in the form of coded clicks, but were the precursor to the modern day radio, which sends voices and music out to its listeners. A Marconigram was a message or telegraph sent by radio telegraphy.

Morse Code and Marconigrams: Resources

Picture books are always a great starting point for whetting the appetite! I was feeling quite chuffed with myself for finding a graphic novel full of comic strips about Samuel Morse. The girls had just finished an artist study on the first ever comic strip artist, Winsor McCay, so this book was perfect! Most of the time, I have them read the books in their quiet time before tucking down at night. Occasionally, if I feel Becca needs a bit more encouragement, Abigail or I will read to her:

Try out your morse code with this Morse Code Translator

We watched a large collection of videos, these were the best two:

And the last messages from the Titanic:

Morse Code and Marconigrams: On the Titanic (at the Titanic Museum in Belfast)

The photo below is of the older children using a Morse Code key to send a Marconigram:

Morse Code and Marconigrams

The Titanic, like other steamers of the time, had a Marconi installation staffed by Marconi company operatives. This allowed Morse Code communication between the ship and shore. Being a relatively new invention, first class passengers enjoyed the novelty of sending messages to their loved ones ashore. First, they would fill out a Marconi form with the message they wanted to send. Next, the Marconi operative would then send a wireless telegraph with the encoded message in Morse Code to the receivers on land. And finally, these receivers translated the Morse Code onto a Marconigram form and then this was taken by Marconi messengers to the recipient.

Morse Code and Marconigrams: SOS

HMS Titanic sent Marconigrams asking for help after she hit the iceberg (again, these are from the Titanic Museum, Belfast):

Once the Carpathia had rescued all the survivors in the life boats as well as a few stragglers still alive in the ocean. The rescue ship then sent Marconigrams to let the survivors’ loved ones know they had survived:

Morse Code and Marconigrams: Activities

I almost bought a Morse Code kit from Amazon, but it had such poor reviews I looked around for another option. In the end, I sent off for all the components to build a Morse Code key. I’m so glad I did because the resulting key was really robust. It was too confusing for me to do, so I asked Gary who happily stepped in:

Morse Code and Marconigrams

This was sooooo cool! Although, it’s a bit like having a new noisy toy for a toddler. The toddler in question will play with the noisy toy over and over again until his poor mother is driven mad. We are getting near that point and I do not have any toddlers… just a tiny beeping Morse Code key:

Look at it! So cool!

Morse Code and Marconigrams

The last thing the girls did was to write out a final message, as if they were the Marconi operatives on the Titanic:

I will be posting more about this when the girls do their presentation in two weeks time.


  1. Such fun for y’all. Can’t wait to see the presentation photos. We visited the Titanic exhibit in Missouri a few years back. So interesting and so very sad.

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