Scope and Content
Title: Collection of material by and about Mabel Hubbard Bell, Alexander Graham Bell, Alexander Melville Bell and Education of the
Date (inclusive): 1872-1957
Collection number: 274
Extent: 21 folders (1 box, 0.5 linear ft.)
University of California, Los Angeles. Library.Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the Sciences
Los Angeles, California 90095-1490
Abstract: A small collection of autograph letters, typescripts, reprints, photographs, and ephemera focusing on the teaching of speech
to the deaf by Alexander Graham Bell, his wife Mabel Hubbard Bell, and his father Alexander Melville Bell. Included are
reminiscences written by the Bells' two daughters about their illustrious parents and grandparents, letters from Mabel Bell
to her younger daughter, a facsimile of a reader prepared by Alexander Graham Bell for one of his young deaf pupils, and
a postcard written in "Visible Speech" from Alexander Melville Bell to one of his granddaughters.
Physical location: Biomed History and Special Collections Cage
Language of Material: Collection materials inEnglish
Collection is open for research.
Property rights to the physical objects belong to the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library, History & Special Collections
for the Sciences. Literary rights, including copyright, are retained by the creators and their heirs. It is the responsibility
of the researcher to determine who holds the copyright and pursue the copyright owner or his or her heir for permission to
publish where The UC Regents do not hold the copyright.
Cite as: [Identification of item], Collection of material by and about Mabel Hubbard Bell, Alexander Graham Bell, Alexander
Melville Bell and Education of the Deaf, 274, Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library History and Special Collections for the
Sciences , University of California, Los Angeles.
Purchased from aGatherin', February, 2004.
ALEXANDER GRAHAM BELL (1847-1922) is world-renowned as a scientist and innovator, inventor of the first practical telephone.
Less attention is usually paid to his deep interest in the problem of speech acquisition for the deaf, an interest that
guided his early research on hearing and speech. Bell was born in Scotland into a family -- grandfather, father, brother
-- who were all involved with elocution and speech, and both his mother and wife were deaf. The Bells moved to Ontario,
Canada, mostly for health reasons. In 1871 the young Bell went to Boston in his father's stead to teach at the Boston School
for Deaf Mutes and subsequently at the Clarke School for the Deaf, in Northampton, Massachusetts. By the next year Alexander
Graham Bell opened a School of Vocal Physiology and Mechanics of Speech in Boston; he also established a highly successful
private practice teaching language to the deaf. In 1873 he became Professor of Vocal Physiology and Elocution at Boston
University. Throughout this period he had continued his experiments on hearing, hearing devices, and the transmission of
sound and articulate speech but, finding the time for research to be insufficient, Bell gave up the private practice in 1873
and kept only two private pupils, George Sanders and Mabel Hubbard.
The fathers of these two pupils, Thomas Sanders and Gardiner Hubbard, were both well-established, wealthy men, who offered
financial backing for Bell's further research into transmission of speech. The money enabled Bell to hire Thomas Watson,
an engineer with the technical knowledge that Bell lacked, and together they continued experimenting with acoustic telegraphy.
By 1875 Bell was able to submit a patent application for an acoustic telegraph and shortly after the patent was awarded,
a prototype of the telephone was demonstrated at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. It was an immediate world-wide
success. The next year Sanders, Hubbard, and Bell formed the Bell Telephone Company.
MABEL GARDINER HUBBARD BELL (1857-1923) was the daughter of Boston lawyer, financier, and philanthropist Gardiner Hubbard,
and the granddaughter of a Massachusetts Supreme Court justice. Left completely deaf by an attack of scarlet fever at age
five, she learned lip-reading and articulate speech and grew up well integrated into the hearing world. Mabel met Alexander
Graham Bell at his school for the deaf in Boston, where she was his student; she also studied with him privately until Bell
decided he would rather have her as a fiancé than a pupil. They were married in 1877. Mrs. Bell was well respected in her
own right as a philanthropist and supporter of deaf education, carrying on the commitments her father had undertaken to aid
the deaf community. She also supported her husband both intellectually and financially in his various research interests
both during and after and the development of the telephone, such as constructing "a practical flying aerodrome or flying
machine driven through the air by its own power and carrying a man."
ALEXANDER MELVILLE BELL (1819-1905) was a teacher and researcher of physiological phonetics, born in Scotland but later moving
to Ontario, Canada. His father, Alexander Bell, under whom he studied, was an authority on phonetics and defective speech.
Alexander Melville Bell lectured on elocution and philology at various universities in Scotland, England, Canada, and the
Lowell Institute in Boston. In 1881 he moved to Washington, D.C., to teach deaf mutes by his "Visible Speech" method, a
writing system he invented to help deaf students learn spoken language.
Visible Speech was a notation system for the sounds of speech, each of the symbols invented by Bell representing the positions
and motions that the lips, tongue, mouth, etc. need to be in to articulate a particular sound. Visible Speech was independent
of a particular language or dialect and was widely used to teach students how to speak with a "standard" accent. Visible
Speech, also known as the Physiological Alphabet, was used in the education of the deaf for a dozen years or so, but was
then found to be more cumbersome than other methods and was largely abandoned.
Scope and Content
This small collection includes autograph letters, typescripts, pamphlets and ephemera dealing with three generations of the
Bell family. Highlights are the reminiscences of the Bell daughters about their parents and grandparents, letters from Mabel
Bell to her younger daughter, Marion, and a facsimile of a reader prepared by Alexander Graham Bell for one of his pupils.
The collection is organized into the following series:
- Series 1. Mabel Gardiner Hubbard Bell and the Clarke School for the Deaf.. six folders
- Series 2. Alexander Graham Bell.. ten folders
- Series 3. Alexander Melville Bell.. five folders
The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
Clarke School for the Deaf
Bell, Alexander Graham, 1847-1922
Bell, Alexander Melville, 1819-1905
Bell, Mabel Gardiner Hubbard, 1857-1923
Deaf children -- Education
Deaf children -- Language
Hearing-Impaired Persons -- education