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The documents in this file cover the years 1870-1929, but the major portion dates from the nineteenth century. The documents were originally filed in 122 envelopes. These envelopes were arranged in neither chronological nor topical order; the items within the individual envelopes also lacked chronological or topical organization. The documents were subsequently rearranged in chronological order.
The material for the years 1887-1898 consists primarily of contracts and agreements, assignments and licenses, powers of attorney, deeds, bonds, mortgages, and other legal documents. Often these items are in the form of drafts or fair copies. Included also are correspondence, often from attorneys; occasional caveats and other patent-related documents; financial documents such as bank notes, stock certificates, accounts, bills, and receipts; and various company records, such as minutes of meetings, reports, and memoranda. In addition, there are occasional affidavits, transcripts of testimony, and other litigation records.
The documents relate primarily to electric lighting, the phonograph, ore milling, electric traction, and telegraphy. There are many items pertaining to the Edison Ore Milling Co., the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Concentrating Works, the Edison United Phonograph Co., the North American Phonograph Co., the Edison General Electric Co., and other Edison companies. Among the documents for 1889 are testimony and other litigation records relating to Edison's controversy with Ezra T. Gilliland and John C. Tomlinson. Family-related legal items, especially regarding Thomas A. Edison, Jr., are also included.
Approximately 70 percent of the documents for the years 1887-1898 have been selected. Many of the unselected items are duplicates or variant versions of other documents in the Miller File or elsewhere. Others merely duplicate the information in selected material. There is also a substantial amount of unselected material relating to the personal finances and business enterprises of Alfred O. Tate and Harry F. Miller. Other categories of documents not selected include: agreements and correspondence with users of the Edison Phonoplex System of Telegraphy; other contracts and agreements not involving Edison or his interests; leases on mining properties and other routine property documents; deeds of release and other routine items relating to the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Concentrating Works and the law practice of Alexander Elliott, Jr.; routine proxies and powers of attorney; letters regarding ore samples sent to Edison; routine items pertaining to stock holdings, stock transfers, and other financial matters; receipts for taxes paid on foreign patents; other routine receipts; printed patents; boiler inspection reports, telephone service contracts with the New York & New Jersey Telephone Co., and other routine items relating to the West Orange laboratory or Glenmont; letters of transmittal without enclosures; and other non-substantive letters. Also not selected are the brief summary sheets accompanying each envelope and the envelopes themselves. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.