Thomas Edison National Historical Park - News Release
For Release: November 27, 2013
Contact: Karen Sloat-Olsen
Phone: 973-736-0550 x17

Special program by miSci Curator Chris Hunter:  
�Restoring the 1878 St. Louis Edison Tinfoil Recording� 
Friday, December 6th, 2013 at 2:30 pm 

WEST ORANGE, NJ � On Friday, December 6th, 2013 at 2:30 pm, Thomas Edison 
National Historical Park welcomes Chris Hunter, Curator of �miSci� Museum of 
Innovation & Science, who will give a one-hour presentation titled 
�Restoring the 1878 St. Louis Edison Tinfoil Recording.�

Last summer, miSci of Schenectady, New York announced that physicists at the 
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory had recovered sound from one of the 
oldest recordings in existence � a phonograph record made on tinfoil in June 
1878 in St. Louis, Missouri.  In this special presentation at Thomas Edison 
National Historical Park, Hunter will describe the innovative  scanning 
process used to restore the recording, and he will explain how his archival 
research identified the talking and other sounds heard in the recording.  
The 1878 St. Louis Edison Tinfoil is the oldest recording of an American�s 
voice that can be heard today.  

The recording opens with a 23-second cornet solo of an unidentified song, 
followed by a man's voice reciting "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and "Old Mother 
Hubbard." The man laughs at two spots during the recording, including at the 
end, when he recites the wrong words in the second nursery rhyme.  Hunter 
determined that the man's voice on the tinfoil recording is probably that of 
Thomas Mason, a St. Louis newspaper political writer who also went by the 
pen name I.X. Peck.  Edison company records show that one of the new tinfoil 
phonographs, serial No. 8, was sold to Mason for $95.50 in April 1878, and a 
search of old newspapers revealed a listing for a public phonograph program 
offered by Peck on June 22, 1878 in St. Louis.

Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in December 1877.  It was the first 
device that could both record and reproduce sound.  Only a very few 
recordings from this very early period survive today. Those that survive are 
delicate artifacts, effectively unplayable until recently.

The Thomas Edison National Historical Park Visitor Center is located at 211 
Main Street. The Laboratory Complex is open Wednesday through Sunday, from 
10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. year-round. The Glenmont Estate is open Fridays, 
Saturdays and Sundays. All special programs are included with $7.00 park 
entrance fee unless otherwise indicated. Children under 16 are free. Car 
passes and tour tickets must be obtained at the Laboratory Complex Visitor 
Center for all Glenmont programs. Reservations are required for some 
programs. Visit our website at  or call 973-736-0550 
extension 11 during visiting hours for more information.


Thomas Edison  National Historical Park 
National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior	
211 Main Street
West Orange, NJ 07052
973 736-0550 phone
973 736-6567 fax