This folder contains correspondence and other documents relating to the technical and commercial development of motion pictures in the United States and other countries. Many of the documents for 1916 pertain to Edison's decision to retire from the motion picture business "on account of the drastic competition." Included are communications from Carl H. Wilson, vice president of Thomas A. Edison, Inc., about the possible sale of the business to Paramount Pictures and from Walter Stevens, manager of the TAE Inc. Export Division, about the decision to close the London office of Thomas A. Edison, Ltd., and about the sale of old films to the Russian Red Cross and other foreign customers. Also included is a memorandum by George F. Scull, former vice president of the Motion Picture Patents Co., written shortly after the U.S. District Court ruled against that company for the second time in an antitrust suit.
In addition, there are items relating to film footage of Edison at work and on a camping trip; to comments published in the Philadelphia Public Ledger by Edison and by noted painter J. Carroll Beckwith on the use of stills from high-speed film; and to a patent infringement issue involving Edison's super kinetoscope, an improved projector developed in 1915. There are also many unsolicited letters about improvements in motion picture technology. A few of the suggested improvements were assessed for Edison by experimenters Selden G. Warner and Adolph F. Gall, but most of the letters contain notations by Edison stating that he had no further interest in motion pictures due to previous failures and the demands of other business.
The correspondents include investor and longtime Edison friend Arthur I. Clymer ; motion picture pioneers Carl Laemmle (whom Edison refers to as a "d- d patent thief") and Samuel Goldwyn; and Harvard lecturer and future efficiency expert Johnson O'Connor. There are also interoffice communications by Charles Edison, who oversaw some aspects of the motion picture business.
Approximately 40 percent of the documents have been selected. The unselected items consist primarily of unsolicited suggestions regarding color film, sound recording, flickerless projection, and three-dimensional photography, which merely received a form-letter reply. Also not selected is routine business correspondence of the Motion Picture Division, which was handled by Leonard W. McChesney. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.