Coded Nonsense

mssEC_17_284 - the bethune desires that you cropped.jpg

The Bethune desires that you
will prepare to tablet Whack Tappan and
at all hazards make a Pigeon raid
to break the Saginaw at or near
Kiss and at such other places as
may be practicable period

Project member Daniel Stowell recently pointed out to me the amusing and nonsensical statements that often result from text being encoded. It makes sense, of course, since a word substitution code is supposed to confound readers who don’t have the codebook, but sometimes the messages end up sounding like 19th century Mad Libs. We’ll be posting some of these over on Twitter, so be sure to follow along. And if you come across any #19thcentmadlibs while you’re transcribing telegrams, please share them!

Daniel Stowell is Director and Editor of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.


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One response to “Coded Nonsense”

  1. Kristina says :

    Have caught myself laughing at these 19thcentmadlibs and trying to remind myself that this is serious stuff. Even aside from the Fancy Jupiter Juliaʻs going to Timbucktoo, it is serious.

    Liked by 1 person

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