Smithsonian National Museum of American History

Dolby Gateway to American Culture

Washington, D.C.

Memories of the Phonograph

 

 

 

The first display is "America’s Listening," which focuses on the public’s experience with recorded sound, including five of the innovations that kept them listening: Thomas Edison’s phonograph, Alexander Graham Bells graphophone, Emile Berliner’s gramophone, Ray Dolby’s noise reduction system and Apple’s iPod.

This display leads to the Culture Wing’s landmark object—a 14-foot stained-glass window, one of four that originally graced the tower of the Victor Company’s headquarters in Camden, New Jersey. Its image of "Nipper," the dog listening to his master’s recorded voice, became the Recording Corporation of America’s trademark image.

 

 



The 14-foot stained-glass window, one of four originally in the tower of the Victor Company’s headquarters in Camden, New Jersey

Courtesy of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History and Jaclyn Nash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The National Museum of American History - The Smithsonian, 2002

Washington, D.C.

 

When I visited the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., in 2002 there were two period rooms that I took pictures of which were displaying phonographs.

One was a room described as a rural tenant farmer's kitchen, "the smaller of the two first-floor rooms in a house from Bowie, Maryland. This was the home to eleven different families from 1896 to 1967, when the house was finally abandoned. All the families were black..." (1)

A Columbia Graphophone with an external brass horn sat on a table.

 

 

 

Information was displayed in front of the room describing the construction and interiors of tenant homes where few Afro-Americans owned the houes in which they lived." An audio program was available to listen to three selections of country blues:

 

Matchbox Blues

Rambling on My Mind

Phonograph Blues

 

 

 

 

The other room that I photographed had a single bed where perhaps a woman lived who was a employee/servant for whomever owned this house/room. A tabletop Victrola sits on a table in the room (perhaps a Victrola VI).