Alexander Graham Bell

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Born March 3, 1847 Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. Died August 2, 1922 (aged 75) Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia, Canada. Cause of death Complications from diabetes. Education: University of Edinburg, University College London. Occupation: Inventor Scientist, Engineer, Professor (Boston University), Teacher of the deaf. Known for Inventing the Telephone.

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                   Their final aircraft design, the Silver Dart embodied all of the advancements found in the earlier machines. On February 23, 1909, Bell was present as the Silver Dart flown by J.A.D. McCurdy from the frozen ice of Bras d'Or, made the first aircraft flight in Canada. Bell had worried that the flight was too dangerous and had arranged for a doctor to be on hand. With the successful flight, the AEA disbanded and the Silver Dart would revert to Baldwin and McCurdy who began the Canadian Aerodrome Company and would later demonstrate the aircraft to the Canadian Army.



                    Bell was connected with the eugenics movement in the United States. In his lecture Memoir upon the formation of a deaf variety of the human race presented to the National Academy of Sciences on November 13, 1883 he noted that congenitally deaf parents were more likely to produce deaf children and tentatively suggested that couples where both parties were deaf should not marry. However, it was his hobby of livestock breeding which led to his appointment to biologist David Starr Jordan's Committee on Eugenics, under the auspices of the American Breeders Association. The committee unequivocally extended the principle to man. From 1912 until 1918 he was the chairman of the board of scientific advisers to the Eugenics Record Office associated with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, and regularly attended meetings. In 1921, he was the honorary president of the Second International Congress of Eugenics held under the auspices of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Organisations such as these advocated passing laws (with success in some states) that established the compulsory sterilization of people deemed to be, as Bell called them, a "defective variety of the human race". By the late 1930s, about half the states in the U.S. had eugenics laws, and California's compulsory sterilization law was used as a model for that of Nazi Germany.


Legacy and honors

                      Main articles: Volta Laboratory and Bureau and Alexander Graham




Bell honors and tributes

                           Bell statue by A.E. Cleeve Horne, similar in style to the Lincoln Memorial, in the front portico of the Bell Telephone Building of Brantford, Ontario, The Telephone City. (Courtesy: Brantford Heritage Inventory, City of Brantford, Ontario, Canada)

                           Honors and tributes flowed to Bell in increasing numbers as his most famous invention became ubiquitous and his personal fame grew. Bell received numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities, to the point that the requests almost became burdensome. During his life he also received dozens of major awards, medals and other tributes. These included statuary monuments to both him and the new form of communication his telephone created, notably the Bell Telephone Memorial erected in his honor in Brantford, Ontario's Alexander Graham Bell Gardens in 1917.

                          A large number of Bell's writings, personal correspondence, notebooks, papers and other documents reside at both the United States Library of Congress Manuscript Division (as the Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers), and at the Alexander Graham Bell Institute], Cape Breton University, Nova Scotia; major portions of which are available for online viewing.

                          A number of historic sites and other marks commemorate Bell in North America and Europe, including the first telephone companies of the United States and Canada. Among the major sites are:

The Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site, maintained by Parks Canada, which incorporates the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, in Baddeck, Nova Scotia, close to the Bell estate Beinn Bhreagh

                         The Bell Homestead National Historic Site, also known as Melville House, overlooking Brantford, Ontario and the Grand River, which was the Bell family's first home in North America;

                         Canada's first telephone company building, "the Henderson Home", of the nascent 1877 Bell Telephone Company of Canada, which was carefully relocated in 1969 to the historic Bell Homestead. The Bell Homestead" and the "Bell Telephone Company Building" are both maintained by the Bell Homestead Society. in Brantford, Ontario

                         The Alexander Graham Bell Memorial Park, which features a broad neoclassical monument built in 1917 by public subscription. The monument graphically depicts mankind's ability to span the globe through telecommunications;

The Alexander Graham Bell Museum (opened in 1956), part of the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site which was completed in 1978 in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. Many of the museum's artifacts were donated by Bell's daughters;

                        The Bell Museum, Cape Breton, part of the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site.

                        In 1880, Bell received the Volta Prize with a purse of 50,000 francs (approximately US$250,000 in today's dollars) for the invention of the telephone from the Académie française, representing the French government. Among the luminaries who judged were Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas. The Volta Prize was conceived by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801, and named in honor of Alessandro




Volta, with Bell receiving the third grand prize in its history. Since Bell was becoming increasingly affluent, he used his prize money to create endowment funds (the 'Volta Fund') and institutions in and around the United States capital of Washington, D.C.. These included the prestigious 'Volta Laboratory Association' (1880), also known as the Volta Laboratory and as the 'Alexander Graham Bell Laboratory', and which eventually led to the Volta Bureau (1887) as a center for studies on deafness which is still in operation in Georgetown, Washington, D.C. The Volta Laboratory became an experimental facility devoted to scientific discovery, and the very next year invented a wax phonograph cylinder that was later used by Thomas Edison;[138] The laboratory was also the site where he and his associate invented his 'proudest achievement', the Photophone, the optical telephone which presaged fibre optical telecommunications, while the Volta Bureau would later evolve into the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (the AG Bell), a leading center for the research and pedagogy of deafness.

                           In partnership with Gardiner Hubbard, Bell helped establish the publication Science during the early 1880s. In 1888, Bell was one of the founding members of the National Geographic Society and became its second president (1897–1904), and also became a Regent of the Smithsonian Institution (1898–1922). The French government conferred on him the decoration of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honor); the Royal Society of Arts in London awarded him the Albert Medal in 1902; and the University of Würzburg, Bavaria, granted him a PhD He was awarded the Franklin Institute's Elliott Cresson Medal in 1912. He was one of the founders of the American Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1884, and served as its president from 1891–92. Bell was later awarded the AIEE's Edison Medal in 1914 "For meritorious achievement in the invention of the telephone".

                         The bel (B) and the smaller decibel (dB) are units of measurement of sound intensity invented by Bell Labs and named after him. Since 1976 the IEEE's Alexander Graham Bell Medal has been awarded to honor outstanding contributions in the field of telecommunications.


~ A.G. Bell ~

Issue of 1940

                            In 1940 the US Post Office issued a commemorative stamp honoring Bell in its 'Famous Americans Series'. The First Day of Issue ceremony was held on October 28 in Boston, Massachusetts, the city where Bell spent considerable time on research and working with the deaf. The Bell stamp became very popular and sold out in little time. The stamp became, and remains to this day, the most valuable one of the series.

                           The 150th anniversary of Bell's birth in 1997 was marked by a special issue of commemorative £1 banknotes from the Royal Bank of Scotland. The illustrations on the reverse of the note include Bell's face in profile, his signature, and objects from Bell's life and career: users of the telephone over the ages; an audio wave signal; a diagram of a telephone receiver; geometric shapes from engineering structures; representations of sign language and the phonetic alphabet; the geese which helped him to understand flight; and the sheep which he studied to understand




 genetics. Additionally, the Government of Canada honored Bell in 1997 with a C$100 gold coin, in tribute also to the 150th anniversary of his birth, and with a silver dollar coin in 2009 to honor of the 100th anniversary of flight in Canada. That first flight was made by an airplane designed under Dr. Bell's tutelage, named the Silver Dart Bell's image, and also those of his many inventions have graced paper money, coinage and postal stamps in numerous countries worldwide for many dozens of years.

                       Bell's name is widely known and still used as part of the names of dozens of educational institutes, corporate namesakes, street and place names around the world. Alexander Graham Bell was also ranked 57th among the 100 Greatest Britons (2002) in an official BBC nationwide poll, and among the Top Ten Greatest Canadians (2004), and the 100 Greatest Americans (2005). In 2006, Bell was also named as one of the 10 greatest Scottish scientists in history after having been listed in the National Library of Scotland's 'Scottish Science Hall of Fame'.

                         Bell, an alumnus of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws degree (LL.D.) at the university in 1906.

See also: Bell Telephone Memorial

Honorary degrees

Alexander Graham Bell, who was unable to complete the university program of his youth, received numerous Honorary Degrees from academic institutions, including:

Gallaudet College in Washington, D.C.  in 1880

Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1896

University of Würzburg in Würzburg, Bavaria in 1902

University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland  in April 1906

Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario in 1909

Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire  on June 25, 1913

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.



                          Bell died of complications arising from diabetes on August 2, 1922, at his private estate, Beinn Bhreagh, Nova Scotia, at age 75.[152] Bell had also been afflicted with pernicious anemia.[153] His last view of the land he had inhabited was by moonlight on his mountain estate at 2:00 A.M.[N 28][156][N 29] While tending to her husband after his long illness, Mabel whispered, "Don't leave me." By way of reply, Bell traced the sign for no—and then he expired.

On learning of Bell's death, Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King cabled Mrs. Bell, saying:

                       [The Government expresses] to you our sense of the world's loss in the death of your distinguished husband. It will ever be a source of pride to our country that the great invention, with which his name is immortally associated, is a part of its history. On the behalf of the citizens of Canada, may I extend to you an expression of our combined gratitude and sympathy.

                       Bell's coffin was constructed of Beinn Bhreagh pine by his laboratory staff, lined with the same red silk fabric used in his tetrahedral kite experiments. To help celebrate his life, his wife asked guests not to wear black (the traditional funeral




 color) while attending his service, during which soloist Jean MacDonald sang a verse of Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Requiem':

Under a wide and starry sky,

Dig the grave and let me lie.

Glad did I live and gladly die

And I lay me down with a will.

                    Upon the conclusion of Bell's funeral, "every phone on the continent of North America was silenced in honor of the man who had given to mankind the means for direct communication at a distance".

                    Dr. Alexander Graham Bell was buried atop Beinn Bhreagh mountain, on his estate where he had resided increasingly for the last 35 years of his life, overlooking Bras d'Or Lake. He was survived by his wife Mabel and his two daughters, Elsie May and Marion.

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