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This series consists of agreements, assignments, licenses, deeds, mortgages, and other legal documents, along with related correspondence and financial records that were collected or created for legal purposes. The files were maintained by Edison's personal secretaries, Harry F. Miller and Richard W. Kellow, as well as by Edison's brother-in-law, John V. Miller (no relation to Harry F. Miller), who assumed Kellow's role after 1921.
Harry F. Miller File. Harry Frederick Miller began his association with Edison in 1888 as an assistant in the office of John F. Randolph, Edison's personal business secretary. He succeeded Randolph as secretary in 1908. Miller also served as treasurer of Thomas A. Edison, Inc., and as an official in several other Edison companies.
The documents in the Miller File are arranged in three groups that parallel the arrangement of the archival record group at the Edison National Historical Park. The majority of documents in the first two groups relate to the chemical plants that Edison set up at the beginning of World War I. On the other hand, the items in Group 3, which constitutes the bulk of the Miller File, are primarily from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Selections from the years prior to 1911 have been published in previous parts of the microfilm and digital editions of the Thomas A. Edison Papers.
The documents in Group 3 were originally filed in a series of 181 numbered envelopes. These envelopes and their contents lacked consistent chronological or topical organization. Although the arrangement of folders in the archival record group at the Edison National Historical Park parallels the original envelope system, the documents selected for publication have been rearranged in chronological order.
Richard W. Kellow File. Richard Wesley Kellow began has association with Edison in 1916 as assistant secretary in the Secretarial Service Department of Thomas A. Edison, Personal. He succeeded Miller as secretary in 1916 and remained in that position until 1921.
The bulk of the material in the Kellow File dates from the period that he served as secretary, although there are earlier documents that were probably collected by Kellow in relation to later matters, along with items from after 1921 that were most likely added to the file by John V. Miller. Selections from the years prior to 1911 have been published in previous parts of the microfilm and digital editions of the Thomas A. Edison Papers.
The documents in the Kellow File were originally filed in a series of envelopes numbered from 1 through 259. Each envelope generally contained several documents pertaining to a particular individual, business interest, business relationship, or transaction. A few envelopes are missing from the sequence. The arrangement of folders in the archival record group at the Edison National Historical Park parallels the original envelope system. However, the folders selected for publication have been rearranged in chronological order according to the earliest document in each folder.
There is some overlap between the documents in the Miller and Kellow files. For example, items pertaining to the sale of Edison's interest in the Lansden Co., a manufacturer of electric delivery wagons, can be found in both collections. In addition, there are legal documents and correspondence in the Edison General File, closely related to the material in the Miller and Kellow files, which may at one time have been in those files.
Legal Department Records
These records consist of correspondence, patent interference files, litigation case files, and other legal material. Established in 1904, the Legal Dept. centralized the business of Edison, his laboratory, and his companies for the consideration of legal matters. It dealt primarily with patent concerns, including applications, interferences, and infringement litigation, but it also handled a variety of other legal matters, such as real estate transactions, copyright and trademark cases, and the execution of agreements, assignments, and licenses. Edison's personal attorney, Frank L. Dyer, served as general counsel of the Legal Dept. until his resignation in 1912. Dyer's assistant, Delos Holden, succeeded him as head of the department and served until his retirement in 1921. Holden was succeeded by Henry Lanahan. Both Holden and Lanahan were assisted by William A. Hardy, who had worked as an assistant examiner with the U.S. Patent Office before joining the Legal dept.
Selected items from this record group, primarily covering the years prior to 1911, were published in Thomas A. Edison Papers: A Selective Microfilm Edition, Part IV (1899-1910). Selections for the period 1911-1931 will be published in Part VI.
Assignments of Motion Picture Rights, 1909-1927
These documents, unprocessed as of April 2007, consist of agreements assigning the motion picture rights to short stories, plays, and other works. Each agreement is signed by an author or publisher holding copyright and by a representative of the Edison Manufacturing Co. or Thomas A. Edison, Inc. (TAE Inc.) Purchase prices range from $10 to $500. Included are agreements involving authors Mary Shipman Andrews, Bessie V. Bannon, Ralph Henry Barbour, Rex Beach, Richard Harding Davis, O. Henry, and Mark Swan. Many of the rights were subsequently reassigned by TAE Inc. to Robert L. Giffen, who purchased Edison's motion picture business in 1919. Some were reassigned to George Kleine, one of the founders of the Kalem Co., who formed a producing and distributing company known as the Kleine-Edison Feature Film Service in 1915. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.