Alexander Graham Bell Demonstrates Telephone for Joseph Henry's Family




Date: January 13, 1877


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Alexander Graham Bell demonstrates his telephone for Secretary Joseph Henry and his daughters at the Smithsonian, and at a meeting of the Philosophical Society of Washington that evening. Bell's first telephone patent had been issued on March 7, 1876, and a month later, Bell transmitted the first intelligible human speech over the telephone. As a judge for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia, Henry submit a report praising Bell's invention. Bell's second patent, covering the "box" phone as transmitter and receiver that he demonstrates during his visit to Washington, would be issued January 30, 1877.


  • Henry, Joseph 1797-1878
  • Bell, Alexander Graham 1847-1922
  • Henry, Caroline 1839-1920
  • Henry, Helen Louisa 1836-1912
  • Henry, Mary Anna 1834-1903
  • Philosophical Society of Washington
  • Centennial Exhibition (1876 : Philadelphia, Pa.)


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • Cyanotype photograph of Alexander Graham Bell, c. 1880s. Smithsonian Institution Archives, negative number SIA2012-1089.
  • Robert Bruce, Bell: Alexander Graham Bell and the Conquest of Solitude. Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1973, pp. 174, 214.

Contact information

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


January 13, 1877


  • Telephone
  • Inventors
  • Inventions

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