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Telegraph network    EN


The first telegraph line within the borders of the Ottoman Empire was installed during the Crimean War in 1855. A fast communication both on a national and international level, especially with Europe, was targeted through the establishment of the telegraph technology. During the war, England and France, which were Ottoman allies, encouraged the Ottoman State in this context and they even wanted to install the line themselves. During the Crimean War, the Ottoman State installed the civil telegraph lines, while the military lines were installed by the British and the French. Thus, fast communication, which was necessary for the central administration, was realized, and the community, and especially merchants, had the opportunity of fast and reliable national and international communication. Telegraph lines were soon installed throughout the Ottoman lands. In 1870, the total length of the lines was 35,059 kilometers, and in 1875 had reached the 37,643 kilometers; this placed the Ottoman Empire on the 5th position among the nations with largest telegraph network in the world. [1]

In 1861, the State founded an official school by the name of Telgraf Memur Mülazımı Mektebi (the School of Telegraph Officials) in order to carry out telegraph communication in the Turkish language and by Turkish officials [2]. The telegraph administration was kept as a separate directorate until it was united with the Ministry of Post on 21 September 1871. Previously subordinate to the Grand Viziership, the Directorate of Telegraph had then, along with the Ministry of Post, been subordinate to the Ministry of Public Works. On the 21st September 1871, the Directorate was united with the Ministry of Post, was renamed as the Ministry of Post and Telegraph and became subordinate to the Ministry of Internal Affairs [3].

During the introduction and extension phase of the electric telegraph, the Ottoman Empire remained dependent on foreigners. Therefore the first telegraph communications were carried out by foreigners in the French language and by Latin letters. This had several disadvantages. Therefore, Ottoman bureaucrats encouraged Ottoman young men speaking foreign languages to work in telegraph offices [4].

The support of the public provided a great encouragement for the Ottoman administrators. Installment of lines was accelerated. In 1865, a decision was taken to unite the line of Sinop with the line to Samsun. Some of the necessary materials were imported and some were supplied by the public [5]. On 10 April 1868, the telegraph line between Sinop and Samsun was completed [6]. In 1869, it was decided that a line was be installed from Sinop to Kastamon; telegraph offices were thus established in the towns of Taşköprü and Boyabat [7].

according to the Provincial Annual of Kastamonu for 1870, the Telegraph Office of Sinop was serving as a 4th class telegraph office. Osman Bey was the manager of the office while Ahmed Efendi was the officer. In the Kastamonu provincial annual that was published in 1870, the telegraph line including Sinop was extending from Usküdar, Istanbul, to Trabzon. This line extended up to Yozgat and Ankara in the central Anatolia. From the city center of Kastamonu, it was going to Boyabat, then to Sinop, and from there to Bafra, Samsun and Trabzon. It was possible to send a telegram from Sinop to all cities and regions of the Ottoman Empire such as the cities of the Danube, of Bosnia, to Thessaloniki, Ioannina, Shkodra and Crete with fees varying between 40 and 50 kurushes. The fees varied between 15 and 30 kurushes within Anatolia, while 30 or 31 francs was the fee for sending telegrams to Egypt or Iran. The total length of the telegraph lines was 442 kilometers while the total length of the wires was 461 kilometers [8].

According to the Kastamonu provincial annual for 1903, Mahmut Celaleddin Efendi was serving as a civil servant and deputy manager in the Mail and Telegraph Office of Sinop. As Sinop was a city where many foreign ships stopped by, Hasan Tahsin Efendi, who spoke a foreign language, was another employee in the office. Çavuş Hüseyin Ağa, Çavuş Hasan Ağa and Mehmet Avni Efendi were among other employees in the Mail and Telegraph Office of Sinop [9].

With the Tanzimat period, the Ottoman State needed a more well-structured, reliable and rapid communication organization. Until then, merchants could send their letters only through caravans, which were very slow moving, or through very expensive means. As they were not aware of level of prices or where a product was needed and in which part of the country, they just waited for customers. Even more problems were experienced in Sinop. Insufficient roads caused administrational and commercial activities. With the introduction of telegraph communication, Sinop, just like all other Anatolian cities, began to enjoy not only a fast connection with the leading cities of the world but also sufficient commercial and other economic information that enhanced the prosperity of its businessmen [10].


[1] Nesimi Yazıcı, “Tanzimatta Haberleşme ve Kara Taşımacılığı”, OTAM, Sayı:3 Ankara 1992, s. 344-34.

[2] Osman Nuri Ergin, Türkiye Maarif Tarihi, Cilt: 1-2, İstanbul 1977, Eser Matbaası, s. 621.

[3] Nesimi Yazıcı, “Tanzimatta Haberleşme ve Kara Taşımacılığı”, OTAM, Sayı:3 Ankara 1992, s. 346.

[4] Osman Nuri Ergin, Türkiye Maarif Tarihi, Cilt: 1-2, İstanbul 1977, Eser Matbaası, s. 621.; Ahmet Yüksel, “Suçluluk ve Suçsuzluk Arasında Osmanlı Telgraf Memurları”, Uluslararası Sosyal Araştırmalar Dergisi, Cilt: 7, Sayı: 33, Volume: 7, s.375.

[5] BOA(Office of the Prime Minister Ottoman Archives), MVL, 715/76.

[6] BOA, A. MKT, MHM, 404/26.

[7] BOA, BEO, A. MKT. MHM, 431/6.

[8] H. 1287 (1870) Kastamonu Vilayet Salnamesi, s. 88-89.

[9] H. 1321 (1903) Kastamonu Vilayet Salnamesi, s. 281.

[10] Nesimi Yazıcı, “Tanzimatta Haberleşme ve Kara Taşımacılığı”, OTAM, Sayı:3 Ankara 1992, s.354.