Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sepia Saturday #151 - Invention of the Telephone: Life, Work & Communication

The theme for this week's Sepia Saturday centers around a photograph  entitled "Photograph of Women Working at a Bell System Telephone Switchboard."  I knew I didn't have anything switchboard related, but it got me thinking about communication and how things have changed drastically from when our ancestors had to send letters by messengers on horse or foot to the very early invention of the telephone.  Alexander Graham Bell was credited with inventing the first practical telephone in addition to other groundbreaking inventions. He has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history.  His invention would drastically change the way that people would live, communicate and work.  I'm sure as with most new inventions not everyone could afford to have a telephone at first but eventually they became more commonplace.  

This is a photo of Alexander Graham Bell, 1892, in New York calling Chicago.  (Gilbert H. Grosvenor Collection, Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress.)

Alexander Graham Bell 1892
Today with the onslaught of cellphones many people are actually moving away from having the traditional land-lines in their homes.  My husband and I have considered it, but can't quite seem to cut the cord, so to speak.  Please scroll further down to see various ads, ephemera and photos I have pertaining to this great invention.  This is a long post with a number of photos but if you stick it out until the end you'll get to see a scrapbook page I made with a picture of me when I had a job working from home a few years ago!   What a treat!!

These two photos are from the 1897 Sears Roebuck Catalog and show that the telephone was available and affordable for many.

Sears Roebuck 1897
Sears Roebuck 1897

This Valentine's postcard which was postmarked in 1910 shows a cute little boy calling his sweetheart on a desk phone.


Next are ads from various years touting the wonders and convenience of telephones.

 Ads from 1935 and 1962:

And finally a scrapbook layout I did a few years ago when I was working from home, quite frazzled, on the phone all day.   Dang -  I wish I still looked that good!

Sepia Saturday is calling you to come on over to see more great stories and photos!

Sources:  Wikipedia, Better Homes & Gardens, Sears Roebuck


  1. A fun post! I was surprised by the ad promoting the addition of a phone for the nursery. Guess I thought that was an idea whose time would come much later. Never underestimate the desire to sell a product!

  2. Oh wow, your photo of the white wall phone- my parents had that model in yellow, in our kitchen and it was my very first telephone! As for the man who is missing his family- ha! ha! in his apron drying dishes of course he misses them! :)

  3. Love that scrapbook page! I can't quite cut the cord either but I do think land lines are on their way out. Very enjoyable post.

  4. What a great post. And that final scrapbook page is quite fascinating as I had never recognised before the similarities between scrapbooking and blogging. A vision, a story, a memory - central to both.

  5. We also considered doing away with our land-line. One of the reasons why we kept it is that the number remains the same whereas our mobile numbers keep changing when we get a new provider.
    And on the scrapbook, are those your toes/flip flops as well? I bet they didn't change that much in 3 years time :)

  6. Why do the ads all seem to aim at the female population (even the man in his apron). The cost of a landline will soon be prohibitive.

  7. I like landlines because they are always on, in the same place, and don't need recharging.

  8. That little icon used as the universal symbol for a telephone will need to be replaced. Who talks to an operator now, much less "dials" a number?

    Alexander Graham Bell features prominently in a superb book I read this summer, "Destiny of the Republic" by Candice Millard. It's about the attempted assassination of President James Garfield and Bell played a significant role in efforts to save the President's life. I recommend it very highly.

  9. Great post! Isn't it amazing how telephone technology has progressed? It was fun to see the different telephones through the ages in the advertisements. And your scrapbook page is awesome!

  10. Nice scrapbooking!!
    I remember the wallphone, in an avocado shade, me thinks...
    I've managed with only my cellphone for about two years now,
    and I'm not the worst for it.
    Why the landline if you've got your cellphone at all times,
    within proximity?!?

  11. We have a landline, but we discontinued long-distance service. We use our cell phones for that. As others have noted, these ads are great. A phone in the nursery - what a concept! Now parents have monitors in there. And the kitchen phone -- if I could have only one phone, it would definitely be in the kitchen.

  12. We keep our landline too, and when the political calls and telemarketers torment us we are tempted too to ditch it, but I guess we will not. We do use our cell for all long distance. Your post, I loved the little valentime the best. An interesting pictorial history of the telephones of the times.

  13. A great piece of social history. I loved the images you featured, especially the Valentine.

  14. We had one exactly like that white one on the wall - ours was a really ugly green though. I still prefer a phone that plugs in - less things can go wrong with it! Ha!

  15. Life is full of trade offs indeed...

    I love the vintage ads, they almost make me wanna buy one (oh wait, we have mobile phones now).


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