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University of Connecticut University Libraries

Southern New England Telephone:
Treasures From The First Fifty Years, 1878-1928

For more about this topic, go to the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center's electronic exhibition...
Southern New England Telephone Company, The First Fifty Years 1878-1928

The Southern New England Telecommunications Corporation can trace it roots back to the District Telephone Company of New Haven, which created the world’s first commercial telephone exchange in 1878 and later that year published the initial subscriber directory. Following the acquisition of exchanges in Hartford, Bridgeport and Meriden, the District Telephone Company evolved into the Connecticut Telephone Company and in 1882 became Southern New England Telephone (SNET).

At its inception, SNET was operating 24 exchanges and had over 3,000 subscribers. After an initial period of slow growth, the Southern New England Telephone Company won several battles with competing firms and began to enjoy the fruits of an economic boom that started in the 1890’s. Telephone service continued to grow annually until the Great Depression and by 1928, the conclusion of its first fifty years, SNET had installed over 300,000 telephones and exchanges statewide.

This exhibition presents a selection of materials representing Southern New England Telephone’s first fifty years. Included are advertising samples, artifacts, historic documents, photographs, postcards, and period equipment including a replica of the first telephone exchange switchboard. Most of the items in the exhibit were donated to Archives & Special Collections as part of a gift to the University by SNET in January, 1998.