This folder contains documents relating to Edison's chemical businesses, mainly those that produced organic chemicals during World War I. Included are items pertaining to Edison's benzol and toluol plants in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and Woodward, Alabama, as well as the plants at Silver Lake, New Jersey, which made phenol for munitions and related products, especially for the dye industry. Among the documents for 1917 is a 13-page itemized list of expenses for the Johnstown plant, along with production reports for the Johnstown and Woodward plants. There are also items pertaining to New Jersey Products, Inc., which was established in 1917 to handle the sale of Edison's chemical products. Some of the documents discuss the resignation of engineer William H. Mason and Edison's intention to withdraw from the chemical business because of low profits. At the end of the folder are five pages of undated technical notes and drawings in Edison's hand, along with a seven-page note to purchasing agent Archibald C. Emery discussing his dealings with the British government and his contract dispute with Herbert Lewis, described by Edison as "a high class crook."
Most of the correspondence relating to Edison's chemical business was handled by his personal assistant, William H. Meadowcroft. Included are letters from dye maker Ernest C. Klipstein about the purchase of Edison's benzidine plant at Silver Lake; from John Fletcher Moulton of the British munitions ministry, regarding Edison's toluol contract with the British government; from the Cambria Steel Co., concerning their decision not to renew their agreement with Edison for the Johnstown plant; and from the Dominion Iron & Steel Co., Ltd., of Nova Scotia, in regard to royalties due to Edison for their Sydney plant. Other correspondents include William F. Hoffman of the American Oil & Supply Co., which marketed specialty products made at Edison's Silver Lake plants, and representatives of the Mitsui & Co., which had a shared interest in the Woodward plant.
Also included are numerous interoffice communications involving Charles Edison, John Bacon, Jr., of the Johnstown plant and Claude H. Opdyke of the Woodward plant, personal business secretary Richard W. Kellow, Frederick D. Lockwood of the sales division, and James T. Phelan of the Phenol Division. In addition, there are several letters from Charles Edison to his father, who was working in Washington, D.C., during the last three months of 1917.
Approximately 30 percent of the documents have been selected. The unselected material consists of routine correspondence relating to orders, shipping, billing, contracts, and quality testing; statements, payments, and certificates of chemical analysis; production reports from the benzol plants; routine correspondence between Meadowcroft and other employees or with outside vendors, especially dye sellers; laboratory notes by experimenters William Walter Dinwiddie and Ludwig F. Ott; routine legal assignments; technical data on chemical processes; unsolicited correspondence; and outgoing correspondence duplicated in the Letterbook Series. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.