National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)

Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)

Educator of deaf people and inventor of the telephone

Alexander Graham Bell became involved with work on elocution and speech influenced by his father and grandfather and the fact that both his mother and his wife were deaf. His research led him to experiment with hearing devices. He constructed the first telephone at Boston in 1875, was awarded the US patent in 1876 and introduced his invention to Britain two years later. His other interests included optical telecommunications, hydrofoils and aeronautics and he became a founding member of the National Geographic Society in 1888. He died at his home in Nova Scotia, Canada in 1922.

Birth in 1847

Alexander Graham Bell was born on 3 March 1847, the son of Alexander Melville Bell, Professor of Elocution, and Eliza Symonds. The entry in the Old Parish Register (OPR) for Edinburgh shows his birth was registered on 12 September 1849 at the same time as his older and younger brothers and that his father had made a solemn declaration before one of Her Majesty's Justices of the Peace. His name is given as Alexander Bell - the middle name of Graham was added later at his own request - and the place of birth as 16 South Charlotte Street.

Birth entry for Alexander Graham Bell

Birth entry for Alexander Graham Bell in the OPR for Edinburgh (70 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, OPR 685-1/60, page 21

1851 Census

In 1851 Alexander Bell, aged four, was enumerated at 13 Hope Street, St George's parish in Edinburgh. The household included his parents, two brothers, a resident pupil and two servants.

1851 Census record for Alexander Graham Bell

1851 Census record for Alexander Bell (37 KB jpeg)
National Records of Scotland, 1851/685-1/126, page 18

Alexander Graham Bell wasn't with his family at the time of the 1861 Census - the last before they left Scotland.