Alexander Graham Bell is most famous for inventing the telephone. Even though his invention allowed us to hear each other’s voices, no one has heard his voice until now.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, through a collaborative project with the Library of Congress and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, has identified Bell’s voice for the first time.
The museum has a collection of the earliest sound recordings ever made from Bell’s Volta laboratory. In the collection was a loose piece of paper with a transcript of a recording. The transcript was signed and dated by Bell and ending with “in witness whereof, hear my voice, Alexander Graham Bell.” This transcript was matched with a recently identified wax-on-binder-board disc that carries the initials “AGB” and the same date—April 15, 1885. The sound was recovered from the disc and matched to the transcript.
Learn more about how the Smithsonian found Bell’s voice.
From the National Archives:
For roughly 4 cents an acre, the fledgling United States doubled in size with the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, signed 210 years ago with France on April 30, 1803.
Acting on orders from President Thomas Jefferson (who had put his doubts as to the constitutionality of the expansion aside) American agents James Monroe and Robert Livingston had planned only to negotiate for the purchase of New Orleans and Florida from France. Instead they were offered the entire territory for the equivalent of 15 million dollars, an offer they hastily accepted.
via Our Documents »
Image description: This animated GIF shows the dance sequence from Odori Hitori Geiko (Dance Instruction Manual) by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849). It’s featured in the exhibition “Hand-Held: Gerhard Pulverer’s Japanese Illustrated Books” at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Learn more about the book and exhibit.
Images from the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Image description: Happy 213th birthday to the Library of Congress! It was established on April 24, 1800.
After the original library was lost to fire during the War of 1812, Congress purchased Thomas Jefferson’s personal library, which became the foundation of the modern Library.
Learn more about Jefferson’s library and the history of the Library of Congress.
This photo of the main reading room in the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building is from the Library’s Prints and Photographs Division.
From the National Archives:
Plan of Alcatraz Prison Towers at the Dock and Power House, 1940
Fifty years ago, the Federal penitentiary on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closed on March 21, 1963. Acquired by the Department of Justice in 1933, the federal prison opened in 1934. Over the course of its years in operation, the prison hosted such infamous figures as Al Capone, Robert Stroud (aka The Birdman), George “Machine Gun” Kelly, James “Whitey” Bulger, and Rafael Cancel Miranda. These plans for prison towers at the dock and power house were part of the overall modernization of the prison facilities undertaken in 1940.