• Heavy Machine Shop

    Thomas Edison

    National Historical Park New Jersey

Talking Doll Record: Research References

Drawing of a prototype talking doll mechanism from Edison Laboratory notebook entry of September 24, 1888.

Drawing of a prototype talking doll mechanism from Edison Laboratory notebook entry of September 24, 1888.

The Thomas A. Edison Papers, Rutgers University

Archival references available from The Thomas A. Edison Papers, Rutgers University:

Edison Laboratory notebook entry of September 24, 1888 (NB011AAI ; TAEM 101:794): Describes a prototype talking doll with a tin cylinder of "Jack and Gill."

Edison Laboratory notebook of October 19, 1888 (NB029029 ; TAEM 102:222): Technical notes that apparently describe the preparation and use of a pre-grooved phonograph cylinder for dolls.

From "Dolls That Really Talk," New York Evening Sun, November 22, 1888 (SC88130a; TAEM 146:357):
"....Then Mr. Edison wound up a brunette doll with jet black curls and sparkling brown eyes. This doll started off at a brisk rate with the following: "Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are, Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky." …and she recited it with feeling and expression..... There were two young ladies in the room at the time who were continually talking to the tiny speaking machines, which a skilled workman was turning out in great numbers. The cylinders were in reality bands of metal about 2-1/2 inches in diameter, about one-eighth of an inch in thickness, and half an inch wide."

From "Talks With Wise Dolls," New York Press, November 30, 1888 (SC88132A ; TAEM 146:359):
"The sound impressions are on a tin cylinder, large or small according to the number or length of the sentences, which revolves when the clockwork starts it."

Published writings on Edison Talking Dolls:

Rolfs, J. & Rolfs, R. (2004). Phonograph Dolls and Toys. Los Angeles, CA: Mulholland Press.

Wile, R.W. (1987). "Jack fell down and broke his crown": The fate of the Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Company. ARSC Journal, 19(2-3), 5-36.

Return to "Early Talking Doll Recording Discovered" page.

Did You Know?

Photograph of Thomas Edison at the age of fourteen years.

There is a rumor that Edison was actually born in Mexico, based on his middle name Alva. However, Alva was the name of a family friend, Captain Bradley. When he was young, Edison's nickname was "Al," from his middle name Alva.