This folder contains correspondence and other documents concerning the fire of December 9, 1914, that destroyed or damaged more than half of the buildings in the West Orange laboratory complex and killed employee William H. Troeber. Many of the letters are unsolicited proposals offering goods, services, or assistance in conjunction with restocking and rebuilding the plant. There are also numerous communications offering expressions of sympathy. Many of the incoming letters and telegrams bear marginal comments by Edison, some in a humorous vein, about his reaction to the fire, the nature and extent of the damage, and his plans for repairing damages and resuming production. Several items pertain to appraisal work by the structural engineering firm, Condron Co. of Chicago. A letter by architect Cass Gilbert concerns his involvement with a special committee, formed by the American Concrete Institute, to investigate the fire. In addition to the correspondence, there are lists of employees who worked during the night of the fire and reports regarding the condition of tools and machinery. Also included is an undated note by Edison: "Am pretty well burned out -- but tomorrow there will be some rapid mobilizing when I find out where I am at." An inscription on the back indicates that the note was "written by T.A.E. for Press at height of fire."
The correspondents include motion picture executives J. Stuart Blackton and Sigmund Lubin, industrialists Andrew Carnegie and George Eastman, longtime Edison associate Herman E. Dick, former employee Frank K. Dolbeer of the Victor Talking Machine Co., and Edwin W. Rice, Jr., president of the General Electric Co. Also among the correspondents are inventors Thomas Armat and Nikola Tesla, public utility executive and former secretary of the U.S. Treasury George B. Cortelyou, mining entrepreneur, John Hays Hammond, and architect Albert Kahn.
Approximately 20 percent of the documents have been selected, including a representative sample of unsolicited letters bearing marginalia by Edison.
Two scrapbooks of newspaper and journal clippings relating to the fire (Cat. 44,509 and Cat. 44,510) can be found in the Scrapbook Series. Additional documents regarding the fire and its aftermath can be found in the archival record group, Edison Phonograph Works. A finding aid is available from the Edison National Historical Park. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.