Bell, Alexander Graham (family)

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Bell, Alexander Graham (family)

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Alexander Graham Bell was born at Edinburgh, Scotland on 3 March 1847, one of three sons born to Alexander Melville Bell and Elizabeth Grace Symonds. Alexander Sr. was a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, phonetician, aided in the development of 'Visible Speech' and a 'Universal Language,' and was also an amature photographer. Alexander Jr. received his early education at James MacLaren's Hamilton Place Academy and the Royal High School. At the age of 16 he became a pupil-teacher at Weston House, Elgin, Scotland where he taught music and elocution, and studied Latin and Greek. In the late 1860s, using methods developed by his father, Alexander began teaching the hearing impaired to speak. In July 1870 Alexander and his parents (his two brothers had since died of tuberculous) immigrated to Canada. The family settled at Tutelo Heights, near Brantford, Ont. In the fall of 1870 Bell moved to Boston to teach 'Visible Speech' to Sarah Fuller, the director of the Boston School of Deaf-Mutes. In 1872 he accepted a teaching position at the American Asylum for the Deaf. It was also during this period that he began work on a harmonic telegraph. In 1873 he accepted a new pupil, Mabel Hubbard, who had been deaf since the age of four as a result of scarlet fever. Mabel was born on 25 November 1857, the daughter of Gardiner Greene Hubbard, a Boston businessman who had a keen interest telegraphy and took a special interest in Bell's harmonic telegraph. Bell worked with Mabel for several years and married her on 11 July 1877. Their first daughter Elsie May was born during a visit to England on 8 May 1878. It was during these years that he began his work on what would become known as the telephone. Hubbard and colleague Thomas A. Watson formed a company to develop Bell's telephone. Bell gave all of his shares in the company to Mabel as a wedding present. Bell continued to invent numerous listening devices. His second daughter Marian was born in 1880 and in the same year he established the Volta Laboratory, a self-sustaining research and development center. Also during the latter half of the late nineteenth century Bell devoted a portion of his time to medical and surgical experiments, many related to X-ray-like devices and surgical probes.|In 1886 the Bell family purchased a large track of land at Baddeck, N.S. following a family vacation there, and erected a large summer home known as Beinn Bhreagh. Bell used as a this home as a retreat and a place to work in solitude on his experiments. Many of his kite experiments, and later his work with airplanes was conducted at Beinn Bhreagh. In the 1890s Bell began experimenting with flight by performing numerous kite experiments. In the early years of the twentieth century he became involved with the Aerial Experiment Association (AEA), a group of engineers interested in flight who jointly undertook numerous experiments, which were funded mainly through the contributions of Mabel Bell. The fourth craft that the AEA produced was the famed 'Silver Dart.' During World War I Bell worked on underwater sensing devices to detect submarines. During the same period he became interested in genetics, and began experimenting with hydrofoil crafts. Bell died at Baddeck on 2 August 1922 and Mabel died at Washington D.C. on 3 January 1923. Mabel had been an important factor in Bell's work, as she test flew some of his planes and financially supported much of his work. Bell's daughters founded a museum at Baddeck dedicated to their father, until they were no longer able to operate it and donated much of their family records to the Canadian Government. Beinn Bhreagh remains the Bell family summer home.


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