Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Before There Were Grammys, There Was Concern For The Teaching Of The Deaf And Hard Of Hearing

"The Volta Laboratory and Bureau building, a National Historic Landmark, was constructed in 1893 under the direction of Alexander Graham Bell to serve as a center of information for deaf and hard of hearing persons. Bell, best known for receiving the first telephone patent in 1876, was also an outstanding figure of his generation in the education of the deaf. Both his grandfather and father were teachers of speech and young Bell worked with them. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Bell moved to Canada with his family in 1870 and a year later moved to Boston to teach at a special day school for deaf children. He became a renowned educator by opening a private normal class to train teachers of speech to the deaf and as a professor of vocal physiology and the mechanics of speech at Boston University. During this time he also invented the phonautograph, the multiple telegraph and the speaking telegraph or telephone

In 1879, Bell and his wife Mabel Hubbard, who had been deaf from early childhood, moved to Washington, DC The following year, the French government awarded Bell the Volta Prize of 50,000 francs for the invention of the telephone. Bell used the money to found Volta Associates, along with his cousin Chichester A. Bell and Sumner Tainter, whose laboratory was focused on the research of recording and transmitting sound. In 1887, the Volta Associates sold the record patents they had developed at the laboratory to the American Gramophone Company, and Bell took part of his share of the profits to found the Volta Bureau as an instrument "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge relating to the Deaf." ...

The work of the Bureau increased to such a volume that in 1893 Bell constructed this neoclassic yellow brick and sandstone building to specifically house the institution. Bell constructed the building across the street from his father's house, the first headquarters of the Bureau."

The Volta Bureau is located at 1537 35th St., NW [in Georgetown]. There is limited accessibility to the public. Call for appointments at 202/337-5220. Metro stop: Foggy Bottom

Washington, D.C. A National Registry of Historic Places

The Grammys

Alexander Graham Bell's Volta Bureau founded as an instrument "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge relating to the Deaf."

The institute was built with profits Mr Bell made selling the patents he held for the invention of the phonographic record.

Photo credit: District of Columbia State Historic Preservation Office . With thanks.


Post a Comment

<< Home