Jan 17, 2023

National Museum of American History Will Preserve Alexander Graham Bell’s Experimental Sound Recordings

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History will embark this fall on a new round of sound recovery to restore some of the world’s earliest recordings. Made possible with public-private funding through an initial grant from the Save America’s Treasures program and matching support by Linda and Mike Curb and Seal Storage Technology, the work will focus on hundreds of records created by Alexander Graham Bell and his colleagues at Volta Laboratory in Washington, D.C., and at Bell’s property in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, between 1881 and 1892. Additional support was provided by SEDDI Inc. and the Alexander and Mabel Bell Legacy Foundation.

The Volta Laboratory innovations in sound recording and playback proved foundational to the emerging music, broadcast and entertainment industries, and to the documentation of worldwide cultures and endangered languages through ethnographic fieldwork.

“Over the three-year duration of this remarkable project, ‘Hearing History: Recovering Sound from Alexander Graham Bell’s Experimental Records,’ we will preserve and make accessible for the first time about 300 recordings that have been in the museum’s collections for over a century, unheard by anyone.” said Anthea M. Hartig, the museum’s Elizabeth MacMillan Director. “We are grateful to this public-private partnership in funding this dynamic and innovative work.”

You can read more in an article published in the National Museum of American History’s web site at:

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