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This file contains contracts, agreements, assignments, depositions, deeds, related correspondence, and other documents similar in character to the material found in the Harry F. Miller File and the Richard W. Kellow File. Most of the items were previously filed by archivists in the Document File. Other documents were found in a series of numbered envelopes entitled "Papers Belonging to Edison Phonograph Works." Also included is a series of printed contracts formerly bound together in a volume entitled "Mr. Edison's Phonograph Contracts" (Cat. 1402).
The material relates primarily to the phonograph. Many of the items pertain to the legal affairs of the various Edison companies, including the Edison Phonograph Works, the North American Phonograph Co., the Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Co., the Edison United Phonograph Co., and the Automatic Phonograph Exhibition Co. Among the documents for 1888 are lengthy depositions by Edison and by Jesse Lippincott concerning Edison's dispute with Ezra T. Gilliland and John C. Tomlinson. Included also are items pertaining to electric lighting, ore milling, and motion pictures. Some family-related material, especially regarding the estate of Mary Stilwell Edison, can also be found in this file.
Approximately 70 percent of the documents have been selected. Most of the unselected items are duplicate copies and variant versions of selected documents. In addition, the following categories of documents have not been selected: routine agreements with users of the Edison Phonoplex System of Telegraphy; agreements and other legal documents not directly involving Edison or his interests; routine receipts and letters regarding financial matters; routine powers of attorney to John Randolph; routine leases on mining properties and other property documents; foreign-language documents accompanied by translations (in such cases, only the translations have been reproduced). Also not included is a 28-page set of by-laws for the Edison Phonorama Co. (1897), along with 4 pages of related notes. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.