Alexander Graham Bell was born on March 3, 1847, in Edinburgh, Scotland. There is a stone inscription at the site of the family home at 16 South Charlotte Street marking it as his birthplace. His father was Professor Alexander Melville Bell, and his mother was Eliza Grace Symonds Bell. The parents had two other sons – Melville James Bell (1845-70) and Edward Charles Bell (1848-67) – and both sons died of tuberculosis.
Bell was given only one name – Alexander – at his birth; when he was ten years old he pleaded with his father to give him a middle name like his brothers. When he was eleven, his father finally gave him a middle name – after Alexander Graham, a family friend. He was known as “Aleck” to his father, other family members and friends.
Bell’s father, grandfather, and brother worked on elocution and speech; his mother and his wife were deaf. These family experiences had a great influence on the work Bell chose to do. He researched hearing and speech and experimented with hearing devices. He received the first U.S. patent for the telephone in 1876, but he “considered his most famous invention an intrusion on his real work as a scientist and refused to have a telephone in his study.”
Alexander Graham Bell became a famous scientist, inventor, engineer, and innovator. His many inventions included “groundbreaking work in optical telecommunications, hydrofoils and aeronautics. In 1888, Bell was one of several founders of the National Geographic Society.”
After a long courtship Bell married Mabel Hubbard (m. 1877-1922) on July 11, 1877 at the Hubbard estate in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As his wedding gift to his bride, he gave her “1,487 of his 1,497 shares in the newly formed Bell Telephone Company. His bride requested that he drop the “k” and be known as Alec, which he did for the rest of his life. The couple immediately left for a year-long honeymoon in Europe. The couple became parents of four children: Elsie May Bell (1878-1964; married Gilbert Grosvenor of National Geographic fame), Marian Hubbard Bell (1880-1962; was called “Daisy”), and two sons who died in infancy (Edward in 1881 and Robert in 1883). The family made their home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, until 1882 when his father-in-law bought a house for them in Washington, D.C.
Bell was a British subject in Scotland and later in Canada until he became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1882. “In 1915, he characterized his status as: `I am not one of those hyphenated Americans who claim allegiance to two countries.’ Despite this declaration, Bell has been proudly claimed as a `native son’ by all three countries he resided in: the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.”