Telephones Across the Smithsonian

"Mr. Watson, come here, I want to see you!" Alexander Graham Bell’s famous request to his assistant came on March 10, 1876, just days after his telephone patent was granted. Bell demonstrated his telephone and Thomas Edison his phonograph at the Smithsonian Castle Building during meetings of the newly formed National Academy of Sciences, headed by Smithsonian Secretary Joseph Henry. 

The Smithsonian was an early adopter of the telephone. In June of 1878, a system of electronic bells and telephones was installed throughout the Smithsonian Castle. The system connected several workrooms and offices to provide instant communications within the building.

Explore telephone-related items from across the Smithsonian.