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Home > 2015 World Day for Audiovisual Heritage

First Sounds and ARSC celebrate WDAVH with a facsimile edition of Scott de Martinville's own definitive anthology

Humanity's first recordings of its own voice were made by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. We are pleased to report that UNESCO's Memory of the World Register now recognizes these recordings and related manuscripts as treasures of world documentary heritage.

In celebration of our succcessful nomination,* and in observation of this year’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage (October 27, 2015), First Sounds and the Association for Recorded Sound Collections (ARSC) are releasing a facsimile edition of Scott de Martinville's own book on the subject.

In this self-published volume from 1878—Le problème de la parole s’écrivant elle-même [The Problem of Self-Writing Speech]—Scott de Martinville assembled the documentary evidence of his work for future generations. In his opening essay he assessed the significance of Edison’s highly celebrated phonograph in light of his own "forgotten" accomplishments 20 years earlier.

We know of only four surviving exemplars of the book. Our facsimile is from the copy passed down within the inventor’s family. You can read it here (in French, with English preface) along with our other definitive resources about Scott de Martinville and his work.


* In March 2014, First Sounds and ARSC nominated "Humanity's First Recordings of its Own Voice: The Phonautograms of Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville" for inscription in UNESCO’s prestigious Memory of the World Register. Our nomination was supported by all four French institutions entrusted with these documents: the Académie des sciences, the Institut national de la propriété industrielle (INPI), the Société d’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale (SEIN), and the library of the Institut de France.