March 4, 2004 Alexander Graham Bell Online Project Concludes

Bell's Notebook on Invention of Telephone Among Newly Available Items

Press Contact: Guy Lamolinara (202) 707-9217

The project to digitize a selection of the Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers will be completed on March 4, when 51 items are added to the approximately 4,700 Bell items currently available from the American Memory Web site at

“The Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers are among the most popular in the Library’s Manuscript Division,” said Librarian of Congress James H. Billington. “Alexander Graham Bell is synonymous with the dawning of a new era of communications, and the Library is pleased to make these papers available to a wide audience.”

The digitization of the Bell Family Papers is made possible through the generous support of the AT&T Foundation.

The newly available letters, notebooks, pamphlets and other materials date from 1871 to 1914. Among the added manuscripts are the scientific notebook in which Bell recorded his invention of the telephone and correspondence from his assistant, Thomas Watson.

In the March 10, 1876 notebook entry, Bell recounts his utterance of the famous words: “‘Mr. Watson – Come here – I want to see you’” as well as his reaction when his assistant arrived: “To my delight he came and declared that he had heard and understood what I said.”

Other correspondence was with poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell, and physician and author Oliver Wendell Holmes. The Bell materials also recount his involvement in the first telephone company, his family life, his interest in the education of persons who are deaf and his aeronautical and other scientific research.

American Memory is a project of the National Digital Library Program of the Library of Congress. Its more than 120 collections, which range from papers of the U.S. presidents, Civil War photographs and early films of Thomas Edison to papers documenting the women’s suffrage and civil rights movements, Jazz Age photographs and the first baseball cards, include more than 8.5 million items from the Library of Congress and other major repositories. The latest Web site from the Library is the monthly “Wise Guide” ( magazine, which demonstrates that “It’s Fun to Know History.”


PR 04-040
ISSN 0731-3527