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Wilhelm Albert Doegen

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Wilhelm Albert Doegen

Year of Birth:
17.03.1877 (Berlin, Germany)

Year of Death:


Part of Companion:


Wilhelm Doegen was born in Berlin. He studied economics, law, history, languages, and phonetics at the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Berlin (today Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), and in Oxford with the linguist and philologist Henry Sweet. After travels in France and England and a voluntary year in the military, he started teaching at secondary schools in Berlin in 1905. Focusing more and more on phonetics and prosody, Doegen published teaching materials for language learning and pronunciation. In 1909, he invented a recording device, the Doegen-Lautapparat, that earned him public recognition at the World’s Fair in Brussels the year after. It was in the same period that he conducted his first speech recordings.

During World War I, Doegen was part of a phonographic commission founded in 1915, the Königlich Preußische Phonographische Kommission. Under the supervision of Carl Stumpf, the commission visited prisoner-of-war camps and recorded more than a thousand speech samples and songs of the prisoners. When the commission was dissolved in 1920, its wax cylinders became part of the Phonogramm-Archiv. For the shellac records, a new sound department was founded at the Prussian State Library, and Doegen became its head. In the subsequent years, he extended the department’s collection, adding, among others, his recordings of German dialects based on Wenker sentences, a collection of voice portraits of famous people to complement Ludwig Darmstaedter’s set of autographs, and recordings of the voices of criminals. The sound department later became the Lautarchiv (“sound archive”) in Berlin.

Doegen was suspended from his position in 1930, suspected of having sold records for personal enrichment. Although he was later exonerated, his reputation was severely damaged, and he had to retire in 1933. After World War II, he returned to the Lautarchiv, now affiliated with the Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität and renamed Institut für Lautforschung (“institute for sound research”). He remained a professor of English language and literature until 1951.

Manuscripts, photographs, letters, and recordings associated with Wilhelm Doegen can be found at the Lautarchiv, the German Historical Museum, and the German Federal Archives.


More recordings conducted by Wilhelm Doegen can be found online:


noch zu übertragen (!)

Key Publications:




Compiled by HE | Picture: © Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin

Doegen, Wilhelm Albert. Doegens Unterrichtshefte für die selbständige Erlernung fremder Sprachen mit Hilfe der Lautschrift und der Sprechmaschine.. vol. 1, Berlin: Verlag von Otto Schwartz, 1909,
Doegen, Wilhelm Albert. Sprech- und Lehrproben. - Ein Beitrag zur Methodik des neusprachlichen Unterrichts.. Berlin: Weidmannsche Buchhandlung, 1913, pp. 47,
Doegen, Wilhelm Albert. Denkschrift über die Errichtung eines “Deutschen Lautamtes” in Berlin.. 1918, pp. 34,
Fünfzehn Jahre Königliche und Staatsbibliothek. Berlin: Preußische Staatsbibliothek, 1921, pp. 253-259,
Doegen, Wilhelm Albert. Kriegsgefange Völker - Der Kriegsgefangenen Haltung und Schicksal in Deutschland. vol. 1, Berlin: Dietrich Reimer (Ernst Vohsen), 1919,
Doegen, Wilhelm Albert. Unter fremden Völkern - Eine neue Völkerkunde. Berlin: Otto Stollberg, Verlag für Politik und Wirtschaft, 1925,
Doegen, Wilhelm Albert. Kulturkundliche Lautbücherei in Verbindung mit Lautplatten für Unterricht und Wiessenschaft - Auswahl englischer Prosa und Poesie . vol. 1, Berlin: Lautverlag, 1925,
Milléquant, Paul. Kulturkundliche Lautbücherei in Verbindung mit Lautplatten für Unterricht und Wiessenschaft - Auswahl französischer Poesie und Prosa . vol. 2, Berlin: Lautverlag, 1928,

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