This folder contains correspondence requesting Edison to write articles, letters from journalists and publishers seeking to interview him or solicit statements and photographs for publication, and other documents relating to articles by or about Edison and his inventions. In addition to the correspondence, there are multiple drafts of the articles and interviews, some written by Edison himself. Among the items for 1919 are documents relating to two published articles by journalist and frequent Edison interviewer Edward Marshall, one on international affairs, the effects of the recent war, the American economy, labor, and Prohibition; the other on the debate over regulation of electric street trolley fares and the larger issues of democracy and labor. Also included is a questionnaire submitted to Edison by pioneering science fiction publisher Hugo Gernsback, editor of the Electrical Experimenter, along with related correspondence about Gernsback's visit to the West Orange laboratory and a final draft of the published article.
In addition, there are letters to and from Allan R. Benson of Reconstruction, D. W. Carr of Commercial West, G. C. Hopkins of Forecast, Verne H. Porter of Cosmopolitan, and G. P. Talbott of the Augusta Herald on topics such as Henry Ford's libel trial, the metric system, Edison's diet, spiritualism, and the upcoming presidential election (Edison favored Herbert Hoover). A letter by Edison to the New York Sun pertains to a debate with Frank J. Sprague over the development of the electric trolley systemâ€”a controversy spurred by the publication of the Marshall interview. There is also correspondence with Waldemar Kaempffert and Lloyd E. Darling of Popular Science Monthly regarding the discovery of the Edison effect and the proper attribution of credit for the development of John Ambrose Fleming's vacuum-tube thermionic valve. A communication from McCall's editor Bessie Beatty, written shortly after the announcement of the ratification of the Eighteenth (Prohibition) Amendment, solicits Edison's views on ways to convert saloons into useful institutions.
Approximately 50 percent of the documents have been selected. The unselected material includes routine requests for biographical information or photographs, requests for contributions to commercial projects, and a list of questions for a Cosmopolitan interview to which Edison never responded. Most of these items received routine replies stating that Edison was unable to address the matter in question or that he was declining all requests. A few of the letters bear handwritten notations by Edison instructing his secretaries to respond with the usual excuses. Also unselected are duplicate and minor variant copies of the interviews represented in the selected documents, along additional routine correspondence with some of the publishers, which was handled by Edison's personal assistant William H. Meadowcroft.
Related documents on can also be found in numerous other folders in the 1919 Edison General File. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.