#HearHistory Tweetup

Green disk

Monday, January 26, 2014  |  12-1:30 PM  | National Museum of American History

What did Alexander Graham Bell's voice actually sound like?

The inventor best known for his work on the telephone was also fascinated with recorded sound and playback. At his Volta Laboratory here in Washington, D.C., he shouted into a mouth piece to record his own voice on experimental recordings. Now, thanks to 21st century sound recovery techniques, we know what he sounded like.
Bell's early sound recordings survive at the Smithsonian, and until recently we considered them unplayable and mysterious.  In 2011, we recovered the sounds of the early 1880s from these fragile disks, through partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Library of Congress.
Hear My Voice: Alexander Graham Bell and the Origins of Recorded Sound showcases new digital versions of these recordings, as well as documents, laboratory notes, and interesting apparatus. On display for the first time ever will be documents delivered to the Smithsonian by Bell and his Volta Laboratory associates in a tin box that was sealed in October 1881, for safekeeping in case of a patent battle. The lid from the tin box will also be on view for the first time.

On January 26, a small group of social media users and history fans will be invited to "hear history" in a tweetable tour of the exhibition with the experts themselves. Register by Tuesday, January 20, 2015, for the opportunity to join the tweetup.

Tweetup attendees will:

  • Tour the exhibition with Curator Carlene Stephens and discover a lesser-known side of Bell's work
  • Hear from senior scientists from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Carl Haber and Earl Cornell and Library of Congress Digital Conversion Specialist Peter Alyea about their noninvasive sound-recovering technique
  • Listen to recovered recordings and discover the interesting challenge of deciphering 19th century speech
  • Share their experience on Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks, helping to "turn up the volume" on the story of early sound recording so that many others will hear these voices of the past
  • Meet fellow social media users and museum staff who are passionate about history and innovation 


General information
What is a tweetup?

A tweetup or "social" is an informal meeting of people who are active on social media. Our tweetups provide social media followers with the opportunity to see our collections, interact with our experts, and sometimes meet special guests. Participants can expect to talk with other attendees, meet staff behind the museum's social media outreach, and spend some time exploring the museum.

How do I register?
The deadline to register is noon EST on Tuesday, January 20, 2015. A maximum of 15 social media participants will be selected to attend the tweetup. Registration is for one person only and is non-transferable. You must be 18 years or older to register. Participants will be notified via e-mail no later than Thursday, January 22. Social participants are selected from those who sign up on the web. Additional registrants will be placed on a waiting list.

Do I need to have a social media account to register for a tweetup at the National Museum of American History?
Yes, tweetups are designed for active social media users who follow the museum on social media. The goal of our tweetups is to allow people who regularly interact with the museum and each other via social media to meet in person and share the experience of enjoying the museum's collections, experts, and programs.
The Fine Print (Terms & Conditions):
Registrants must follow the National Museum of American History on at least one social media platform (such as Twitter or Instagram) and actively share content via social media. Entrants must be 18 years of age or older to be eligible for selection to attend the tweetup. Registration is for one person only and is not transferable.

If you are selected for the tweetup but cannot attend, please let us know and your space will be given to another registrant on the wait list.

Tweetup participants are responsible for their own expenses for travel, accommodations, food, and incidentals. Please let us know if you have any special needs or accessibility requirements prior to arriving for the event.

Some events and participants scheduled to appear at the tweetup are subject to change without notice. The Smithsonian is not responsible for loss or damage incurred as a result of attending. The Smithsonian, moreover, is not responsible for loss or damage incurred in the event it cancels the event with limited or no notice. Please plan accordingly.

On the day of the tweetup, registrants must show a government issued ID (driver's license or passport) that matches the name provided on the registration. Those without proper identification cannot be admitted. All tweetup participants will be asked to sign a release form allowing the Smithsonian to use images, audio, or video taken of you and social media posts created by you during the event. You will also be briefed on guidelines designed to respect the privacy of museum visitors.
What are tweetup registration requirements?

By registering for our tweetup, you are indicating your intention to travel to the site of the event and attend in person. You are responsible for your own expenses for travel, accommodation, food and other amenities. The National Museum of American History is part of the Smithsonian Institution. You will need to provide government-issued identification (driver's license or passport) that matches the name provided on your registration.

Can I register if I am not a U.S. citizen?
Yes, non-U.S. citizens may register to attend National Museum of American History tweetups.

When and how will I know if I am selected?
After registration closes, an e-mail with confirmation information and additional instructions will be sent to those selected as well as those on a waitlist.  If you are on the waitlist, you may receive an invitation only if someone on the original selection list cancels and a space opens up.

What if I cannot travel to the tweetup?
If you cannot attend in person, please do not register. However, you can still plan to join the conversation by following the museum and tweetup participants on Twitter and Instagram. Use the official event hashtag #HearHistory, in this case) to follow and join the conversation.

Can I bring friends or family members to the tweetup with me?
No. Tweetup activities are for registrants only. Your friends and family may explore other parts of the museum while you participate in the tweetup.

What else should I know?
You will be asked to sign a photo release form allowing the Smithsonian to use your social media posts and any images or video taken of you during the event. You will also be briefed on guidelines designed to respect the privacy of our visitors.

The museum has hosted several tweetups and socials and there will be more to come.