This is the first of twenty-three folders relating to the organization, management, and operation of the Thomas A. Edison Construction Department. Edison founded this company in 1883 for the purpose of constructing direct-current electric power stations in towns and cities throughout the United States. This was the only electric light company that Edison managed directly. It operated for approximately one year. Most of the documents in these folders deal with the organization of local companies in New England, Pennsylvania, and other parts of the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest.
Included in this folder are documents containing substantial references to more than one central station or regional company or to more than one division of the Construction Department (for example, the canvassing and engineering divisions). Also included are documents that discuss the general business of the company. Much of the correspondence is by Samuel Insull, Edison's private secretary, who was appointed attorney for central station business. Among the other correspondents are Sherburne B. Eaton, president of the Edison Electric Light Co.; A. S. Kissell, agent for the Edison Electric Light Co. in Tennessee; and D. H. Ogden of Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Several other folders deal with the activities of the various functional divisions of the Construction Department. Bookkeeping records were managed by Edison's office staff at 65 Fifth Avenue, New York City and can be found in "Thomas A. Edison Construction Department -- Accounts." Documents relating to the activities of the canvassing department, which was responsible for canvassing and mapping prospective central station districts, can be found in "Thomas A. Edison Construction Department -- Canvassing." Documents pertaining to the engineering department, which was responsible for the technical installation of the central stations, can be found in "Thomas A. Edison Construction Department -- Engineering." The remaining folders deal with the activities of individual central stations and local companies. They are organized alphabetically by state and city. Documents from the various divisions of the Construction Department that relate to one specific station can be found in the folder for that station.
Related correspondence can be found in D-84-16 (Edison, T.A. -- Outgoing Correspondence), D-84-25 (Electric Light -- Edison Company for Isolated Lighting), and Letterbooks LM014 - LM021 (Letterbook Series). Documents pertaining to the activities of the Thomas A. Edison Construction Department can also be found in the Accounts Series and in the Company Records Series.
Approximately 90 percent of the documents in this folder have been selected. The following categories of documents have not been selected: routine correspondence regarding orders and shipments; duplicate copies of selected documents. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.