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This series contains correspondence, interoffice memoranda, account books, minute books, letterbooks, and other records pertaining to the operations of Edison's companies. Among the companies incorporated during the period 1899-1910 were the Edison Manufacturing Co., Edison Portland Cement Co., and Edison Storage Battery Co. Edison companies conducting business abroad during these years included the foreign department, branches, and subsidiaries of the National Phonograph Co.; the Mining Exploration Co. of New Jersey; and the Edison Ore Milling Syndicate, Ltd. The records of many of these companies extend beyond 1910, and in most cases selections have been made from the entire record group and not merely from the records generated during the years 1899-1910.
The period 1899-1910 was one of increasing centralization for Edison's companies, many of which would be consolidated into Thomas A. Edison, Inc., in February 1911. The Legal Department and the Foreign Department, for example, both emerged from Edison's phonograph business but served the interests of several companies in addition to the National Phonograph Co. Much of the centralization was the work of Frank L. Dyer, general counsel of the Legal Department, who succeeded William E. Gilmore as president of the National Phonograph Co. and vice president of the Edison Manufacturing Co. in 1908. Dyer later helped establish central committees such as the Manufacturing Committee, some of the minutes for which can be found in the "1910. Edison, T. A. - General" folder in the Document File Series. The correspondence and case files of the Legal Department appear in the Legal Series, while most of the financial and administrative records of the Foreign Department are in the National Phonograph Company Records.
Most of the documents in the Company Records Series can be found in company record groups of the same name in the archives of the Edison National Historical Park (ENHP). However, the ledgers, journals, and other accounting records in this series are primarily from the Account Books record group. Bound volumes bearing archival N-numbers and PN-numbers are interfiled in the ENHP archives with Edison's laboratory notebooks and pocket notebooks. A few items are from the Legal Department record group.
Many of the documents comprising the company record groups in the ENHP archives were removed by archivists from the Document File during the 1980s and 1990s. Some Edison company records remain in the Document File and can be found in folders such as "Edison Crushing Roll Co.," "Edison Manufacturing Co.," "Legal Department," and "Phonograph - Edison Business Phonograph Co." Correspondence involving the National Phonograph Co., Ltd., and various other foreign subsidiaries of the National Phonograph Co. can be found in the National Phonograph Company Records. Printed promotional material generated by Edison's companies can be found in the Primary Printed Series.
The selected records are arranged in the following order: (1) Compagnie Français du Phonographe Edison; (2) Edison Manufacturing Company; (3) Edison Ore Milling Syndicate, Ltd.; (4) Edison Phonograph Works; (5) Edison Portland Cement Company; (6) Edison-Saunders Compressed Air Company; (7) Edison Storage Battery Company; (8) Mining Exploration Company of New Jersey; (9) Motion Picture Patents Company; (10) National Phonograph Company; (11) New Jersey Patent Company; and (12) North Jersey Paint Company.
Among the items not selected are two summary books prepared by or for Frank L. Dyer in 1908 and 1910. Both contain individual entries for many Edison companies and summarize incorporation data. The information in these books duplicates the material in the selected records.
In addition to the twelve companies represented in the Company Records Series, there are other Edison companies with identifiable records for the period 1899-1910 for which no discrete record group exists in the ENHP archives. Financial records for these companies are from the Account Books record group, while correspondence and other material generated by and pertaining to these companies are from various record groups and can be found in several series in this edition.