From Edison to Miller: WU’s Most Influential Employees

Newsroom By Kendra Ralston September 8, 2017

Thomas Edison: innovator, inventor, businessman. Little-known fact: he was also a Western Union employee.

We succeed because of pioneers and game-changers who have transformed Western Union into the global platform it is today. Check out some of the most influential people to walk our halls.

Thomas Edison

During his time at Western Union, Edison created a transmitter to compete with Alexander Bell’s telephone, as well as other telegraph-related products. After his employment at Western Union ended, Edison was able to pursue his scientific experiments and inventions full time, going on to invent the electric light system and motion pictures.

Henry Miller

Henry Miller is known for the success of his novel Tropic of Cancer. But prior to his career as an author, Miller worked at Western Union as a personnel manager. While working in the messenger department, he started working on his first novel, Clipped Wings. With support from family and friends, he eventually quit to pursue writing full time.

Fun fact: Miller’s time at Western Union influenced him so much that his second novel, Moloch: or, This Gentile World, is partly based on his years there.

Russell Sage

One of the richest Americans in history, Russell Sage once served on Western Union’s Board of Directors with iconic businessmen, including J.P. Morgan and C. Vanderbilt.

Robert Kennicott

An American naturalist, explorer, and herpetologist, Robert Kennicott led groundbreaking expeditions across America. In 1959, Western Union Telegraph Expedition hired Kennicott to install an electric telegraph line from California to Russia. Kennicott’s discoveries led to robust collections at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History.

John D. Larkin

One of the greatest 19th century entrepreneurs, John D. Larkin began working as a Western Union telegraph messenger at only 12 years old. He then went on to work at a soap factory for the next eight years, learning the business and eventually establishing the Larkin Soap Manufacturing Company.

Christina A. Gold

From 2006 to 2010, Christina Gold was CEO of Western Union Financial Services, Inc. Listed for several years as one of Forbes’ 100 most powerful women, Gold helped make Western Union a global leader in the money transfer industry. She was key in implementing a new organizational structure and ensured diversity and inclusion at every level.

Feeling inspired? Learn more about our employees and how to become part of our diverse network.