Manuscript/Mixed Material Alexander Graham Bell's design sketch of the telephone, ca. 1876.

About this Item

Title
Alexander Graham Bell's design sketch of the telephone, ca. 1876.
Created / Published
ca. 1876
Subject Headings
-  Bell, Alexander Graham (1847-1922)
-  Inventors
-  Inventions
-  Australia
-  Communications
-  Telegraph
-  Electromagnetism
-  Symonds, Edward
-  Symonds, Frances M
-  Manuscripts
Genre
Manuscripts
Notes
-  Reproduction number: A8 (color slide; front); A9 (color slide; verso); LC-MSS-51268-6 (B&W negative; front)
-  This sketch made its way from Boston, Massachusetts, to Australia and back to the United States in time for its display at a 1976 Library of Congress exhibition celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the first successful telephone experiment conducted by inventor and educator Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922). Drawn by Bell himself and inscribed "To Miss Frances M. Symonds, from A. G. B.," the sketch shows the essentials of Bell's dramatic new invention. During the summer of 1876, Edward Symonds and his three daughters were visiting his sister, Bell's mother Eliza Grace, and it was at this time that Bell gave his cousin the sketch, of which he wrote, "As far as I can remember these are the first drawings made of my telephone--or 'instrument for the transmission of vocal utterances by telegraph.'"
-  The middle sketch perhaps best explains Bell's invention in that it resembles a rough draft of the finished drawing submitted by him in his 1876 patent. On the left, a person is shown speaking into the wide end of a cone, which focuses the sound vibrations onto a membrane at its narrower, opposite end. These sound waves vibrate the membrane or diaphragm, which is attached to an armature connected to an electromagnet (the small, rectangular box at the narrow end of the cone). When the diaphragm vibrates, the armature also vibrates, inducing electrical signals via the electromagnet, which travel across the circuit (shown by Bell's wavy, up-and-down lines across a straight line) to the electromagnet on the right. These signals induce the armature on that side to copy the vibrations sent by the left armature, and these vibrations, in turn, are mimicked by the diaphragm on the wide end of the cone on the right. A listener at its other, narrow end thus hears a true reproduction of the original utterance.
-  This sketch, a unique piece of communications history, was a long-treasured Bell family heirloom that somehow left the United States. It was recovered in Australia by Bell's grandson, Melville Bell Grosvenor (1901-1982), who gave it to the Library of Congress, stating, "I was indeed lucky to locate this hand-pencilled sketch of the telephone which was treasured for years by the Australian members of the Bell family."
Source Collection
Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers
Repository
Manuscript Division
Online Format
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Alexander Graham Bell's design sketch of the telephone. 1876. Manuscript/Mixed Material. http://www.surfoboards.com/item/mcc.004/.

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(1876) Alexander Graham Bell's design sketch of the telephone. [Manuscript/Mixed Material] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, http://www.surfoboards.com/item/mcc.004/.

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Alexander Graham Bell's design sketch of the telephone. 1876. Manuscript/Mixed Material. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.surfoboards.com/item/mcc.004/>.

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