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Notable Alumni

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell (1847–1922): Although Alexander Graham Bell achieved worldwide fame as the first person to patent the telephone on March 7, 1876, he was not content with merely revolutionizing human communication. In addition to this groundbreaking legacy, Bell was also a teacher, a speech therapist, and a special agent of the U.S Census Bureau.

As early as 1889, Bell made recommendations to the Superintendent of the Census Office, Robert Percival Porter, for proper enumeration of the deaf and blind in the census. He emphasized the need for properly phrased questions in order to discern true levels of disability and the acquisition of these disabilities. The Census Office did take into account some of Bell's recommendations for the 1890 Census, however it did not fully implement all of them.

On October 10, 1900, Census Director William R. Merriam appointed Alexander Graham Bell "Expert Special Agent of the Census Office, for the preparation of the Report on the Deaf and the Blind." Although the report was not completed until 1906, the 1900 Census data on the blind, deaf, and dumb was the most comprehensive in census history.

To learn more about Alexander Graham Bell's census work, read Alexander Graham Bell and the 1900 Census.

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Source: U.S. Census Bureau | Census History Staff | Last Revised: December 08, 2021