One Hundred Years at the Library: The Telautograph

April 25, 2023

In the 1930s, how did librarians communicate across the nine stories of the Frick Art Reference Library’s building? In this episode, Stephen J. Bury, Andrew W. Mellon Chief Librarian, introduces the telautograph, an innovative technology installed in the library’s original East 71st Street home. The machine allowed for handwritten notes to be transmitted from the reading room to the stacks and offices above. Used in tandem with dumbwaiters, the telautograph is an early example of the cutting-edge technology employed at the library since its founding.

All the objects highlighted in this video series are featured in the celebratory publication One Hundred Objects in the Frick Art Reference Library, available for purchase at the shop. You can consult materials in the library's collections in our reading room—book a free visit today.

0:43: Footage from The Library: A Family Affair, 1952, courtesy of the Brooklyn Collection 16mm film collection, Brooklyn Public Library, Center for Brooklyn History

One Hundred Years at the Library is supported in part by Virginia and Randall Barbato.

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