Joseph Henry Advises Alexander Graham Bell on Development of Telephone




Date: March - April 1875


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Alexander Graham Bell visits Secretary Joseph Henry at the Smithsonian to discuss experiments he has conducted involving the telegraphic transmission of vocal sounds. After assuring Bell that he has made an original discovery, Bell agrees to demonstrate the apparatus for Henry. Henry advises Bell to continue his research before publishing his results thus far. In April, Bell writes Henry describing further experimental work on the telephone and his theory of how the apparatus works. Henry responds that he believes this to be original work and that the experiments support Bell's theory regarding the transmission of sound.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Bell, Alexander Graham 1847-1922


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Alexander Graham Bell, 1876. Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number MAH-9823C or SIA2012-1090.
  • Rothenberg, Marc, et al, eds. The Papers of Joseph Henry, Volume 11, January 1866-December 1878: The Smithsonian Years. Washington, D.C.: Science History Publications, 2007, pp. 534-29.

Contact information

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


March - April 1875


  • Telephone
  • Inventors

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