This folder contains correspondence pertaining to Edison's former motion picture business, his contribution to the industry, and to motion pictures generally. Among the items for 1919 is a communication from Charles Edison to his father expressing optimism that the assets sold in 1918 to the now defunct Lincoln & Parker Film Co. can be reacquired and recommending producer Robert L. Giffen as a buyer. Also included are a letter from Herbert Hancock of Fox News requesting Edison to appear in a propaganda effort to "combat the rapid spread of Bolshevism" and a lengthy communication to the New York Tribune from former Edison attorney Frank L. Dyer challenging a statement by attorney Harold Steele MacKaye that French photographer Louis Le Prince invented the motion picture camera.
In addition, there is correspondence with Robert A. Franks, Edison's Llewellyn Park neighbor and Andrew Carnegie's business secretary, regarding a talking motion picture of the late industrialist made five years earlier. A letter from film producer Edward A. MacManus invites Edison to attend the screening of The Lost Battalion, a movie about the Battle of Argonne Forest in which the principal characters were played by themselves. Other correspondents include English teacher and prospective screenwriter Mary S. Ayres, traveling exhibitor Lyman H. Howe, Edison associate Miller Reese Hutchison, film industry pioneer Carl Laemmle (whom Edison characterized as a "pirate" and a "crook"), Samuel S. Marquis of the Ford Motor Co., former Motion Picture Patents Co. vice president George F. Scull, and educator J. W. Shepherd. Topics covered in these and other documents include the educational uses of motion pictures, the need for a standard film width, a gyroscope camera acquired by Dyer in 1912, and the construction of the Black Maria film studio. The letter from Shepherd contains a notation by Edison that he was discouraged from making educational films by "the utter lack of interest by the Educational authorities & others."
Approximately 30 percent of the documents, including all incoming letters with substantive marginalia by Edison, have been selected. Most of the unselected items are unsolicited inquiries or suggestions that received routine replies stating that Edison had left the motion picture business. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.