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EIU Teaching with Primary Sources

The Source 2.0

 Early hand wind machine

Source Home          Introduction          Primary Sources in the Classroom          PDF

This publication is created to be a source of information and inspiration for teachers as they incorporate Library of Congress digitized primary sources and resources into instruction by Teaching with Primary Sources at Eastern Illinois University.


The original newsletter, Inventions and Inventors, January 2007 (pdf)

Inventions & Inventors


Welcome to the latest project by Teaching with Primary Sources at EIU, The Source 2.0. The Library of Congress and TPSEIU have added many resources over the years. Our goal is that The Source 2.0 will supplement some earlier newsletters with new and updated information in an easy to find format. The original newsletter is still available, but The Source 2.0 will provide a brief introduction to the topic and links to resources at both and We hope that each issue of The Source 2.0 will help readers quickly locate primary sources, lesson plans, and other information relating for a designated topic. The first issue of The Source 2.0, will revisit the January 2007 issue about Inventors & Inventions. Without early inventions and the creativity of the inventors, many products we use today would not be available.

In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone and one year later formed the Bell Telephone Company. The success of the telephone provided Bell with the financial means to design and build other inventions. After the telephone, he invented the photophone. This device enabled sound to be transmitted on a beam of light.In 1881, Bell and his associate Charles Sumner Tainter, successfully sent a photophone message over 200 yards from one building to another.Bell's invention of the photophone revealed the principals upon which today's laser and fiber optic communication systems are founded.

Samuel F. B. Morse was returning from Europe in 1832, when he had the idea of using electricity to communicate over distances.2 In December 1837, Morse applied for appropriation from the federal government and conducted telegraph demonstrations in both New York and Washington.2 However, the financial panic of 1837 delayed Morse's telegraph. When financial recovery came in 1843, Morse asked Congress for $30,000 to build a telegraph line from Washington to Baltimore.Overhead wires connected cities up and down the Atlantic, headed westward and even connected the continents of Europe and America.2 

The invention process is one of trial and error.  Inventors may struggle for years before finally seeing a creation succeed. When creating the gramophone, Emile Berliner experienced many setbacks. Even after the gramophone was built, Berliner continued to patent improvements into the early twentieth century.3 Berliner's invention provided him financial success but it also offered opportunities for illegal competitors. One individual simply copied a Berliner record but placed a numeral 1 to the disc number.3

These are just a few examples of the incredible stories and primary sources available about inventors and inventions in the Library of Congress. Search American Memory and Collection Connections to find more information on inventors and their inventions.

1. Alexander Graham Bell as Inventor and Scientist, The Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers at the Library of Congress, 1862-1939, American Memory, Library of Congress. Accessed 1.1.2014
2. The Invention of the Telegraph, The Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress, 1793-1919, American Memory, Library of Congress, Accessed 1.1.2014
3. The Gramophone, Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry, American Memory, Library of Congress, Accessed 1.1.14

Primary Sources in the Classroom 

Teacher's Page

Themed Resources

Science and Invention

Primary Sources Sets

Wright Brothers

Lesson Plans

Thomas Edison, Electricity, and America

Presentations and Activities

With Wings as Eagles


American Memory

African American Experience in Ohio, 1850-1920

Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers at the Library of Congress, 1862-1939

Photographs from the Chicago Daily News, 1902-1933

Nineteenth Century in Print

Words and Deeds

Emile Berliner and the Birth of the Recording Industry

Inventing Entertainment the Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings of the Edison Companies

Samuel F. B. Morse Papers at the Library of Congress, 1793-1919

The Wilbur and Orville Wright Papers at the Library of Congress


Benjamin Franklin in his own Words

Emile Berliner: Inventor of the Gramophone

Hog Heaven: Celebrating 100 Years of the Harley-Davidson

John Bull and Uncle Sam: Inventions and Discoveries

Leonardo's Workshop

Prints and Photographs

Groups of Images

Miscellaneous Items in High Demand

Wright Brothers

Experiments and Inventions

America's Story

Meet Amazing People



Jump Back in Time

Inventor Elias Howe was Born: July 9, 1819

The Artificial Leg is Invented: November 4, 1846

Samuel F. B. Morse Sent the First Telegraphic Message: May 24, 1844

Alexander Graham Bell Invented the Photophone: June 3, 1880

Ice Cream Cone makes Appearance at World's Fair

The First Telephone Call: March 10, 1876

The Fist Coca-Cola Served: May 8, 1886


Berliner and the Birth of Recording

Franklin and the Society for the Useful Knowledge


Inside Technology, Science, and Business

Today in History

November 18, 1789: The Daguerrotype Photography

August 26, 1791: Steaming Along

July 9, 1819: Inventor of the Sewing Machine

May 24, 1844: What Hath God Wrought?

October 24, 1861: The Transcontinental Telegraph and the End of the Pony Express

March 10, 1876: Alexander Graham Bell

August 12, 1877: Mr. Edison's Phonograph

June 3, 1880: Bell's Photophone

August 31, 1897: Edison Receives Patent for Kinetographic Camera

July 23, 1904: The Ice Cream Cone








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