This folder contains correspondence relating to employment in Edison's laboratory and factories. Many of the documents for 1916 pertain to his need for chemists for his wartime work on coal-derived products. Included are applications from college students who were subsequently offered positions, along with letters from applicants referred to Edison by his friends or business associates and a few reference letters for departing employees. Also included is correspondence on general labor issues such as training, strikes at Edison's factories, pensions, public health and medical care. Some of the documents concern the hiring of James T. Phelan to replace Wilfred S. Dowling as manager of the Aniline Division. In addition, there are requests for financial assistance from film actor Edwin Clark and from the family of Edison's chemical consultant Jonas Walter Aylsworth, who died in June 1916. One letter contains a draft response by Edison denying the allegation that he discriminated against Jews in his hiring practices, while several other letters contain derogatory remarks about a Jewish applicant whom Edison subsequently decided not to hire.
Approximately 15 percent of the documents have been selected. The unselected items consist primarily of requests for employment from men and women of widely varying ages and backgrounds. Most of these requests received no answer or a form letter stating that there were no positions currently open. Also not selected are letters from Edison to more qualified applicants, explaining that he needed organic rather than inorganic chemists, stating that he did not hire for summer work only, or requesting a photograph of the applicant. Other unselected documents include letters from current or past employees seeking financial support, requests for verification of employment history, letters of introduction, requests for career advice, declined job offers, and reminiscences from individuals who claimed to have worked for Edison at some point in the past. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.