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LISTEN: Researchers Recover Alexander Graham Bell’s Own Voice

Recording of Alexander Graham Bell recovered by researchers (Natural Museum of American History/Smithsonian Institution)

No politics, just awe. Alexander Graham Bell recorded his voice for the ages at the Volta Laboratory, and after all these years, we can now hear it again.

At the Volta Laboratory in Washington, D.C., Bell as an inventor decided to compete directly with Thomas Edison’s invention of the phonograph. He wanted to make it better. What he came up with was the graphophone, and protecting that from a patent lawsuit meant gathering evidence.

What we have here is one of the recordings he made as evidence. This is the man’s actual voice, speaking to the ages.

I love this. This is living history in a way we rarely get to experience. This is a recording that is over 130 years old, of a time long ago.

What blows me away is the location as well. Based on the address, 1221 Connecticut Avenue, I believe that’s near Dupont Circle, across the street from the Shake Shack where I get lunch regularly. And this video connects me with what happened there over a century ago.

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