Graham Bell Family Collection
Papers and photographs of the Bell family
View images from the collection
The papers of Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) and his family
were donated to the Library by his heirs in 1975. Soon after his
appointment as professor of vocal physiology at Boston University
in 1873, Bell began a series of experiments that led to the invention
of the telephone. His success enabled him to engage in numerous
scientific activities while continuing his career as a teacher
of the deaf. Bell's papers in the Manuscript Division include diaries, correspondence,
printed matter, financial and legal records, and several hundred
volumes of laboratory notebooks which record his daily work from
1865 to 1922. The collection documents patent disputes and early
marketing of the telephone as well as Bell's varied scientific
research in such fields as aeronautics, eugenics, and physics,
his financial support of Science magazine, and his participation
in the National Geographic Society and Smithsonian Institution.
A family archive, the collection also encompasses materials of
Alexander Melville Bell, the inventor's father; Mabel Hubbard Bell,
his wife; and Gilbert H. Grosvenor, his son-in-law, as well as
correspondence between the Bells and the Hubbards, the Grosvenors,
and the Fairchilds, their relatives by marriage. Access to the
140,000-item collection is provided by a container list. Some material
has been microfilmed. Nonmanuscript items--musical compositions,
maps, and sound recordings--have been transferred to the appropriate
custodial divisions. Of related interest are the Grosvenor and
Hubbard Family papers, respectively totaling 65,000 and 8,000 items,
that were received by the Library in 1977.
Like the Bell Family papers, the Gilbert H. Grosvenor Collection
of Alexander Graham Bell Photographs in the Prints and Photographs Division centers
on the professional and private life of Alexander Graham Bell.
Included are professional portraits of several generations of the
Bell family and photographs by family members. At present, annotated
family photo albums which are listed in the division catalog are
the principal access tool. Subject and portrait files contain a
limited number of reference prints.
Brannan, Beverly W., with Patricia T. Thompson. "Alexander Graham
Bell: A Photographic Album," U.S. Library of Congress. Quarterly
Journal. v. 34, April 1977: 73-96; included in A Century
of Photographs, 1846-1946, Selected from the Collection of the
Library of Congress (Washington: Library of Congress, 1980.
TR6.U62.D572), compiled by Renata V. Shaw.
The National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections. Washington,
Library of Congress, 1972, 78-1688.
U.S. Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, "Frontiers: Recent
Acquisitions of the Manuscript Division," U.S. Library of Congress.
Quarterly Journal. v. 33, October 1976: 360-365.