Communication Devices Installed, USNM & SIB

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The Annual Report for 1880 states that the work of putting in wires for the burglar-alarm, telegraph, telephone, electric clocks and call bells in the United States National Museum Building is nearly finished. By January 1883, there will be 34 telephone connections: 14 in the National Museum, 9 in the Smithsonian Building, and 11 outside. The number of electric lamps is 5 at that time, plus 2 lamps for photographic purposes. Three hundred windows and 85 doors in the Museum Building are connected to an annunciator [signal box].


  • Arts and Industries Building
  • United States National Museum
  • Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, D.C.)
  • Office of Protective Services


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • The alarm system is described as being, "a valuable feature in the economy of administration of a structure so immense as, and of the peculiar construction of, the new Museum building, since it will lessen the necessity for a large corps of watchmen and attendents, the locality of any attempt on the part of designing persons to open a window, door, or case being at once automatically indicated in the central office, or instrument room, where a watchman will be on duty at all hours."
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1880. Washingotn, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1881, p. 169.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the year 1882. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1884, p. 125.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,




  • Telegraph
  • Architecture
  • Electricity
  • Technology
  • Telecommunication
  • Buildings
  • Building
  • Facilities

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