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Alexander Graham Bell

Born 1847 - Died 1922

Alexander Graham Bell<BR>
Alexander Graham Bell was born in Scotland. His mother, who was deaf, was a musician and a painter of portraits. His father, who taught deaf people how to speak, invented "Visible Speech". This was a code which showed how the tongue, lips, and throat were positioned to make speech sounds. Graham, or "Aleck", as his family called him, was interested in working with the deaf throughout his life.

He only attended school for five years; from the time he was ten until he was fourteen, but he never stopped learning. He read the books in his grandfather's library and studied tutorials.*

When he was a teenager, he and his brother Melly used the voice box of a dead sheep to make a speaking machine that cried, "Mama!" This created even more interest in human speech and how it worked.

When he was in his early 20's, his two brothers died of tuberculosis.* Bell himself had the disease and his father moved the family to Canada looking for a better climate in which to live. Bell recovered from the disease.

Two years later he went to Boston to open a school for teachers of the deaf and then became a professor at Boston University. It was at this time that he met Mabel Hubbard, one of his students who was 10 years younger than he. Mabel had become deaf at the age of four due to scarlet fever. Five years after their meeting they were married.

Bell and his family

At the wedding ceremony he gave her a gift of all but 10 shares of the stock in the newly formed company called Bell Telephone Company. They had two daughters and two sons. Their sons both died at a young age.

Thomas Watson became an associate of Bell. He made parts and built models of Bell's inventions. One day while they were working Bell accidently heard the sound of a plucked reed* coming over the telegraph wire. Watson had been tuning the metal reeds in the next room. Bell drew up a plan for the telephone and they continued to experiment. The next day he transmitted the famous words, "Mr. Watson, come here. I want you!" A few months later on Feb. 14, 1876, he applied for a patent on his telephone.

He knew he would have to work quickly to get the patent* because other people were also trying to make an invention to transmit the human voice. Elisha Gray claims he too invented the telephone, but Bell got to the patent office an hour or so before he did. It is said that Antonio Meucci also succeeded with the invention before Bell. Because Bell had the patent, he had the right to be the only one to produce telephones in the U.S. for the next 19 years.

He showed the invention to Queen Victoria of England and she wanted lines to connect her castles.

By 1917, nearly all of the United State had telephone service.

He continued to invent other things. He developed a method of making phonograph* records on a wax disc. He made an iron breathing lung, and a device for locating icebergs at sea. He experimented with sheep. He was interested in kites that could lift a man, and he invented a hydrofoil* which set a world speed record of over 70 miles per hour.

He along with others started the National Geographic Society and he served as its president for several years.

He and Enrico Forlanini built a hydrofoil and named it HD for "hydrodome". The first one glided across the water at 30 mph, then later they developed one that would go 50 mph and finally by the time they got to HD4 they were going 70.86 mph! It was the fastest hydrofoil in the world, and that record would stand for ten years.

Bell liked making kites. His favorite kite was the tetrahedral, a four-sided object whose sides and base are all triangles. The massive kite shown in the photograph above is made of silk and wood. He called it the Frost King. One day one of the workers was accidently lifted forty feet into the air. When he saw this Bell knew he was getting closer to realizing his dream.

He became a U.S. citizen, but he died in Canada at the age of 75.

This biography by Patsy Stevens, a retired teacher, was written in 2003.

In 2004 we visited the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. See pictures here.

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From Word Central's Student Dictionary
by Merriam - Webster

(Pronunciation note: the schwa sound is shown by ə)

Pronunciation: t(y)u bər kyə 'lo səs
Function: noun
a disease of human beings and some other vertebrates caused by a bacterium and usually marked by wasting, fever, and formation of cheesy tubercles that in human beings occur mostly in the lungs

Pronunciation: t(y)u 'tOr E əl
Function: noun
something written to give practical information about a subject

Pronunciation: r E d
Function: noun
a thin flexible strip (as of cane, wood, metal, or plastic) fastened at one end to the mouthpiece of a musical instrument (as a clarinet) or over an air opening (as in an accordion) and set in vibration by an air current (as the breath)

Pronunciation: 'pat ənt
Function: noun
an official document granting a right or privilege; especially : a writing granting to an inventor for a term of years the only right to make, use, or sell his or her invention

Pronunciation: 'fo nə graf
Function: noun
an instrument that reproduces sound recorded on a grooved disk

Pronunciation: 'hI drə foil
Function: noun
a boat that has fins attached to the bottom by braces for lifting the hull clear of the water to allow faster speeds

Research Links

Alexander Graham Bell
at Bio 4 Kids

Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers
Library of Congress

Alexander Graham Bell: America Listens
video at

Alexander Graham Bell
from PBS

Alexander Graham Bell Timeline

More about Bell and Kites
from Design Technology

Video "Mr. Bell"
Part 1, 13 minutes
(Picture can be enlarged to full screen)

Video "Mr. Bell"
Part 2, 16 minutes

Online book "Inventors"
Alexander Graham Bell, page 264

At search for Alexander Graham Bell.
Scroll the panel for the "Video & Audio Results".

Famous Americans Coloring Pages

Invention of the Telephone
claims that Bell was not the inventor
from Guardian Unlimited

Antonio Meucci
inventor of telephone before Bell?

Antonio Meucci
at Wikipedia

Elisha Gray
also claims to be the inventor of the telephone

Telephone Use (audio)
Elisha Gray and Miracles (audio)
Engines of Our Ingenuity.

Washington Post story
about who invented the telephone (enlarge picture to read)


Press "Go" to search for books about Alexander Graham Bell


Order the following books from Amazon.

Alexander Graham Bell (Graphic Biography)
by Saddleback Educational Publishing (selected pages) Order here

Alexander Graham Bell, Photo Illustrated Biographies
by Greg Linder (selected pages) Order here

Alexander Graham Bell: A Life of Helpfulness
by Shelia Rivera (selected pages) Order here

Always Inventing: A Photobiography of Alexander Graham Bell
by Tom L. Matthews (selected pages) Order here

Alexander Graham Bell: Giving Voice to the World
by Mary Kay Carson (selected pages) Order here

Alexander Graham Bell Invents (National Geographic)
by Anita Garmon (selected pages) Order here

Night of the New Magicians (Fiction)
by Mary Pope Osborne, Sal Murdocca (selected pages) Order here

Alexander Graham Bell
by Carole Marsh (selected pages) Order here

Bell's Breakthrough
by Stacia Deutsch, Rhody Cohon, David Wenzel (selected pages) Order here

The History of the Telephone
by Herbert Newton Casson (public domain, 1910, full view )

Alexander Graham Bell, First Biographies
by Lola M. Schaefer, Gail Saunders-Smith, Judith Tulloch (selected pages)

Alexander Graham Bell
by Victoria Sherrow, Elaine Verstraete (selected pages)

Alexander Graham Bell
by Lucia Raatma (selected pages)

Alexander Graham Bell, Giving Voice to the World
by Mary Kay Carson (selected pages)

Alexander Graham Bell and the Telephone
by Jennifer Fandel (selected pages)

Alexander Graham Bell, History Maker Bios
by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson, Tad Butler (selected pages)

The Picture History of Great Inventors
by Gillian Clements (selected pages)

Credits and Solutions

Pictures courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site of Canada.

Puzzles on these pages courtesy of
Songs of Praise and Armored Penguin

* Word Match Solution

Page Comments
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i love this book
Thanks for the information!! I am using this for a biography I am doing on Alexander Graham Bell!! And I am giving the credit to you of course.
Lenore Brown
This is so so help fall love it so much and this helped me in mY school a little bit
i had to do a science report it kind of helped me but there wasnt anything sort of different like all of the other websites had all th same info.
is any of this aloud 2 b used in a science physcics thing im doing?

You may use any of the information in the Alexander Graham Bell biography in your project.
The pictures from the museum may not be used. I used them with permission from the museum. You would need to contact the museum about using them yourself.

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