Inscriptions on bells can be a real hoot. Some depart from the standard message to praise and thank God. John Potter Briscoe in Curiosities of the Belfry (1888) provides some good fodder. Some are downright morbid. Prepare to die. Remember death. Some confidently state their abilities. All tho my voice be shrill & small, IContinue reading “Inscriptions”

The Note that Wasn’t There

I hope I did not lead you astray with my explanation about the Liberty Bell’s tuning using terms like overtone and partial. My apologies, dear reader. I give you a description of bell tuning below for the uninitiated, and I reveal the mystery of all mysteries at the end! Bells are tuned unlike any otherContinue reading “The Note that Wasn’t There”

Proclaiming Liberty, part III

So…what does the Liberty Bell SOUND like? Thanks to a research team of grad students at Pennsylvania State University, we’ve got an educated guess! Hmm. That’s an interesting sound, isn’t it? Kind of crunchy. A neutral observer would say that it doesn’t follow the typical profile of partials in bells. Others may put it anotherContinue reading “Proclaiming Liberty, part III”

Proclaiming Liberty, part II

By the nation’s Centennial Celebration in 1876, the Liberty Bell was one of the most prominent symbols of the country, a standing only rivaled by the face of George Washington.* The cracked Liberty Bell was represented on all kinds of commemorative commercial products sold at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876. Plates, glasses, pitchers,Continue reading “Proclaiming Liberty, part II”

“Proclaim liberty thro’ all the Land to all the Inhabitants Thereof”

George Lippard, a young journalist, penned the story of how the Old Bell (as the Liberty Bell was known back then) announced the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, and thus the Liberty Bell came to be known by its familiar name. But Lippard wrote this story in early 1847—long after the nation’s birth.Continue reading ““Proclaim liberty thro’ all the Land to all the Inhabitants Thereof””

The Harkness Chimes at Yale

Ah! When I hear those bells, I feel nostalgic for my college days! Or when I hear that glee club sing or marching band play! And THAT, my friends, is my dissertation in a nutshell. I’m sure I’ll come back to the topic of bells and nostalgia more on this blog. As part of myContinue reading “The Harkness Chimes at Yale”

Saved by the Bell

Bells regulated daily life in European monasteries, then European churches, cities, and universities. New World colleges were fashioned after those of the Old World, and so bells found a home on our campuses. I love this depiction below of the college bell in the lives of Yale students in the nineteenth century. Under the elmsContinue reading “Saved by the Bell”