Students, researchers, or the just plain curious can delve deeper into Edmonton’s telephone heritage at the Telephone Historical Centre Archives. The archives contain an impressive collection of vintage telephone directories dated from 1895 to the present day*; technical manuals from the 1800s onward; and other books of interest relating to telecommunications technology and history.
The archives contain many unique original volumes. For example, The Telephone: An account of the Phenomena of Electricity, Magnetism, and Sound, as involved in its actions with instructions for making a Speaking Telephone was published in 1877, only one year after the invention of the phone. Professor A. E. Dolbear created this book to meet the public demand for an explanation as to how the telephone worked after six months of telephone demonstrations and articles on the new invention had made it a world-wide sensation. Detailed diagrams lay out how readers could make their own phones at home.
The Story of Cyrus Field, also published in 1877, tells the “noble story” of the man who was behind the burying of the Atlantic telegraph cable. Unique illustrations add to the interesting content of this book. Among the technical manuals in the archives is Telephony’s Telephone Traffic Engineering Handbook from 1960 which describes aspects of traffic engineering and sets out the steps necessary to accomplish this job. This manual was used by workers in the telephone industry, and pencilled-in notes can still be found on the inside.
The archives also include a large number of photographs capturing the history of telephone use in Edmonton. Images of Edmonton’s telephone pioneers, as well as the people and technology that helped build the telephone industry in the city and in the province can be found in this one-of-a-kind collection.
A series of oral histories with former telephone industry employees can also be found in the museum’s archives. A sampling of the oral histories is available on the Alberta Online Encyclopedia.
*The museum is currently accepting donations of Edmonton telephone directories to fill in the gaps in the collection. The museum is missing phone books from 1896 to 1906 and from 1914. Please call 780-433-1010 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in donating.