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These records consist of unbound documents, primarily correspondence, generated by or pertaining to NPCo for the period 1900-1911. The documents are arranged by year and within each year are further divided into "domestic" and "foreign" folders. The "domestic" folders contain correspondence and other documents relating to the technical development and commercial exploitation of phonographs in the United States. Included are items pertaining to the manufacture, distribution, and sale of phonographs and sound recordings, as well as to litigation, patents, and other legal matters. The "foreign" folders contain correspondence and other documents relating to the commercial exploitation of phonographs and supplies in countries other than the United States. Included are items pertaining to the Foreign Department, a New York-based department supplying non- European markets. Also included are letters and other documents regarding the London-based National Phonograph Co., Ltd. (NPCo, Ltd.), as well as French, German, and other European-based sales and manufacturing companies loosely controlled from London.
Among the correspondents representing NPCo are William E. Gilmore, president (1899-1908) and general manager (1896-1908), and Frank L. Dyer, his successor as president (1908-1911); John R. Schermerhorn, assistant general manager until 1907; Carl H. Wilson, manager of sales (1899-1907), assistant general manager (1907-1908), and general manager (1908-1911); Charles E. Stevens, manager of the Foreign Department, and Walter Stevens, his successor; James H. White, director of NPCo, Ltd., and Thomas Graf, his successor; F. K. Dolbeer, manager of the NPCo Credit Department and, later, manager of sales; Nelson C. Durand, manager of the Commercial Department; Leonard C. McChesney, manager of the Advertising Department; and Walter H. Miller, manager of the Recording Department. Other correspondents include Jonas Walter Aylsworth, Peter Bacigalupi, Leo H. Baekeland, Nelson Goodyear, Samuel Insull, Eldridge R. Johnson, George Croydon Marks, and Ludwig Stollwerck.
Approximately 15 percent of the documents have been selected. The selected items reflect Edison's direct involvement in the company or pertain broadly to corporate policies or administration and financial organization, but they generally do not reflect routine operations. Material on individual jobbers and dealers has not been selected except where the letters document the administrative and financial structure of the business. For example, items pertaining to the reorganization and subsequent dissolution of the Chicago branch office have been selected, yet routine statements of account and reports on general business conditions have not. Similarly, documents regarding supply points for phonographs and recordings shipped abroad have been selected, but not routine orders or shipping invoices. Unbound financial statements, including some detailed expense reports, have generally not been selected, although some foreign financial statements have been because they include information not available in the journals, ledgers, or profit and loss sheets. Small amounts of foreign-related material exist in the "domestic" folders, particularly concerning sales in Canada and shipments from San Francisco to markets across the Pacific. In addition, some of the "foreign" folders contain information about foreign markets for motion pictures.
Along with the items enumerated above, the following categories of documents have not been selected: weekly and monthly reports; letters of transmittal and acknowledgment; routine leases and agreements; and routine correspondence with vendors and attorneys. Where many similar documents present repetitive information, a representative sample has been selected. Dockets, endorsements, and other secretarial markings appearing on the backs of letters have not been selected, unless they contain important information absent from the document itself.