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The Richard W. Kellow File contains agreements, bills of sale, leases and deeds, tax forms, patent assignments, and related correspondence that were maintained by Kellow in his capacity as secretary of Thomas A. Edison, Personal. Included are items pertaining to royalty payments, Edison name use, real estate, relations between Edison and his companies, and individuals who believed they had anticipated Edison in some invention. The selected documents cover the years 1911-1930, with the majority dating from the period that Kellow served as secretary (1916-1921). The earlier documents were probably collected by Kellow in relation to later matters, while those from after 1921 were most likely added to the file by Edison's brother-in-law John V. Miller, who assumed Kellow's role during the 1920s.
Specific subjects covered in the documents include agreements to use Edison's mining and storage battery technologies; experimental phonograph sales systems proposed by Edison; the payment of royalties to German chemist Heinrich Hirzel for the use of his patent in Edison's wartime benzol plants; a $1.2 million loan from Henry Ford for the expansion of Edison's storage battery plant; the establishment of the Wisconsin Cabinet & Panel Co. to make phonograph cabinets; the incorporation of the Diamond Disc Shop at 10 Fifth Avenue in New York City; and other items concerning the building in downtown Manhattan owned by Mina Miller Edison.
There are also documents pertaining to real estate acquired by Edison for his son William L. Edison; the Ecometer Manufacturing Co., an unsuccessful business venture of Thomas A. Edison, Jr.; the estates of deceased associates Charles Batchelor, John Kruesi, and Josiah C. Reiff; compensation policies in the cases of employees William H. Knierim and Meno Kammerhoff; the removal of historic items from the West Orange laboratory and other locations for use in Henry Ford's proposed Edison museum; and the formation of Edison Botanic Research Corporation to find new sources of rubber.
Also included are Edison's personal income tax return for 1914; a 1919 report to the New Jersey Bureau of Industrial Statistics with information about the capitalization, labor force, and function of the West Orange laboratory; a 1919 report to the Internal Revenue Service indicating the capitalization and income of Thomas A. Edison, Inc., and seventeen other Edison companies; a descriptive list, prepared in 1923, of all of Edison's patents; and estimates of the monetary value of his patents at the time of their transfer to his companies in 1926.
Each of the 118 envelopes from which documents have been selected appears immediately preceding its contents. Although the title of the envelope generally provides an accurate description of the items therein, some envelopes contain additional material only loosely related to the subject in the title. Some bear notations indicating that the legal document specified in the title was removed for use elsewhere. Other envelopes either are empty or contain only a contents list.
Approximately 50 percent of the documents from 1911-1930 have been selected. Within the individual envelopes, the proportion ranges from 10 percent to100 percent. The selected material includes signed agreements involving Edison personally, correspondence regarding the conduct of his personal business and finances, documents providing substantive or summary information about his companies, and items relating to Edison's family, particularly to provisions made for his six children.
The unselected material includes routine correspondence and legal documents that Edison merely signed; business documents not pertaining to Edison personally or to his interests directly; letters of transmittal and other cover documents; records consisting mainly of raw data; routine items relating to mortgages, renovations, and leases for the building on 10 Fifth Avenue and other Edison property; land transfers and leases between Edison and his own companies in West Orange and Silver Lake; cancelled transactions and unexecuted legal instruments; and documents concerning the rental or purchase of musical instruments for recording studios.
Also not selected are interoffice communications about payments, receipts and vouchers; assignments for patent applications that were subsequently abandoned; Internal Revenue Service slips showing supplementary compensation for certain employees in 1923 and 1924; personal business documents of Charles Edison and other family members; duplicate, multiple, and variant copies of selected documents, such as a 1921 list of patents; copies of documents selected in other series or published in previous parts of the microfilm and digital editions of the Thomas A. Edison Papers; rough notes and calculations; and folders that contain only an empty envelope, a list of contents, or documents unrelated to the envelope title.
Related material can be found in the Harry F. Miller File (Legal Series) and in the Edison General File Series.
A complete list of folders from which documents have been selected appears below. The folders have been rearranged in chronological order according to the earliest document in each folder.