Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Munson, James Eugene

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MUNSON, James Eugene, phonographer, b. in Paris, Oneida co., N. Y., 12 May, 1835. He studied for a time at Amherst, but was not graduated. His attention was early directed to the study of short-hand, and he soon became an expert. Coming to New York city early in 1857, he was called upon, ten days after his arrival, to take his first verbatim report on the occasion of the Harvey Burdell murder trial. Soon afterward, in connection with other reporters, he set to work to simplify the existing systems of short-hand, and the fruits of their labor, as finally shaped and put into practice by Mr. Munson, were presented in his “Complete Phonographer” (New York, 1866), to the preparation of which he had devoted three years of labor, and tested it by seven years of practice. This was followed in 1874 by a “Dictionary of Practical Phonography,” and in 1877 a revised edition of the “Complete Phonographer” appeared. In 1879 Mr. Munson issued “The Phrase-Book of Practical Phonography,” the “phrases” being taken almost entirely from illustrations gathered from the author's notes made in his court practice, he having been court stenographer in New York city for more than twenty years. He also reported the Henry Ward Beecher trial for the New York “Sun,” without assistance, during the six months of its continuance. On two days of the trial the report reached seven and a half columns of agate type each day. He is now (1888) perfecting a type-setting machine that he has invented, which, being operated by means of a prepared ribbon of paper, automatically sets a column of corrected, justified, and leaded type. He has also invented machines by which the ribbon is prepared, and a telegraph, also operated by the same paper ribbon, which causes an exact fac-simile of the ribbon to be automatically produced at a distant point, ready for use in operating a similar type-setting machine. These inventions are based on his “Selecting Device,” which has also been patented by him.