[This note covers all of the "Phonograph" folders for 1914.]
This folder contains correspondence, interoffice communications, and other documents relating to the commercial and technical development of Edison's cylinder and disc phonograph. Included are letters pertaining to public demonstrations of the Diamond Disc Phonograph, the selection of talent and music for recording, customer relations, and activities among Edisonâ€™s agents and competitors. There are also production and accounting reports, along with a letter from the accounting firm of Lybrand Ross Bros. & Montgomery regarding a project to systematize operations in the Disc Department. In addition, there are numerous letters complaining about the musical quality and limited repertoire of Edison recordings. A letter from Gov. George H. Hodges of Kansas expresses disappointment "in the ordinary class of records that you are furnishing." A communication by Harry T. Shriver, a neighbor in Llewellyn Park, is one of several commenting on the need for more dance music. Other correspondents include Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan, who agreed to make a series of recordings for Edison; Thomas C. Ballard, an early phonograph promoter; newspaper publisher Arthur W. Brisbane; and radio and television pioneer Lee De Forest. Numerous undated items in Edison's hand, including evaluations of songs and artists, follow the dated documents. An incomplete set of the minutes of the Amusement Phonograph Committee appears at the end of the folder.
Approximately 25 percent of the documents have been selected. The material not selected includes unsolicited suggestions and inquiries from inventors and other unsolicited correspondence receiving no substantive reply from Edison. Also not selected are lists of phonograph dealers, letters of transmittal and acknowledgment, and daily and weekly reports concerning quality testing, sales, and other commercial matters. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.