National Museum of American History
Gateway to American Culture
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
National Museum of American History - The
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:
on My Mind
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).