Hearing History

Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site

The cylinder containing the voices will be preserved in the National Museum — and perhaps 100 years after this — the voices may be reproduced. -Alexander Graham Bell

Transcription of sound recording handwritten by Alexander Graham Bell.

In 1881, Alexander, his associate Charles Sumner Tainter, and cousin, Chichester Bell, formed the Volta Laboratory in Washington. The laboratory allowed the group to further experiment with sound recording and improve upon Thomas Edison’s phonograph. Over time, the group made hundreds of records to test various recording methods. What do the records in our collection contain? IRENE’s visit to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site will result in digital versions of the approximately 120 cylinders, discs, and other records in storage.

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