FAQ: Myths and Rumors about Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell is considered to be one of the most important scientists and inventors the world has ever known. Upon his death in 1922, The New York Times wrote that “the little instrument he patented less than fifty years ago, scorned then as a joke, was when he died the basis for 13,000,000 telephones used in every civilized country in the world.” The patent for the telephone he invented has been called “the most valuable patent ever issued” by the U.S. Patent Office.

Long before he gained celebrity as an inventor, Bell was a noted elocutionist and teacher of the deaf. As the son of a deaf mother and the husband of a deaf wife, Bell’s lifelong dedication to the hard of hearing formed the basis for much of his original research into the telephone.

Later in life, Bell took an interest in a number of fields, including the emerging science of heredity and genetics, which was a popular area of study at the time. He also was a proponent of human rights, social justice and universal suffrage.

Much has been speculated and written about Bell’s interest in heredity and its connection to his early work with the deaf. Drawing from Bell’s own writings and comprehensive academic research using primary sources, the FAQ that follows is an attempt to address a growing body of rumors, disinformation and false narratives that have unfairly tainted the inventor’s life and work.

Part of the mission of the Alexander and Mabel Bell Legacy Foundation is to promote and defend the historical accuracy of the inventor’s work while ensuring the true historical record of his life and times.

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