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These records, which cover the period 1889-1903, consist of 52 volumes containing tissue copies of the company's outgoing correspondence and internal communications. Some of the material is duplicated in, or is complemented by, material in other series. The letterbooks are divided into 7 subgroups determined by the principal author(s) of the volumes, the specific subject matter, and considerations of chronological continuity: (1) Harry M. Livor Letterbook; (2) Letterbooks by Thomas Butler, Harry M. Livor, Walter S. Mallory, et al.; (3) Walter S. Mallory Letterbooks; (4) Walter S. Mallory Personal and Company Letterbooks; (5) Edwin I. Olmsted Letterbooks [Requisitions]; (6) Francis R. Upton Letterbooks [Sand Sales]; and (7) Emil Herter Letterbook [Orders]. Within each subgroup, the books are arranged in chronological order. In some instances, a chronological gap exists between the end of one letterbook and the beginning of the next.
The principal authors (and often recipients) of the correspondence are the senior officers and supervisory employees of the company, including Thomas Butler, secretary; William S. Perry, secretary and treasurer; Emil Herter, draftsman and mechanical engineer; Harry M. Livor, general manager; Walter S. Mallory, vice president; Edwin I. Olmsted, clerk and (later) purchasing agent; and William P. Walsh and Francis R. Upton, sales agents for sand. Other authors include Edison, president; Samuel Insull, vice president from 1890 to 1893; and John F. Randolph, secretary/treasurer after 1895. Although there are occasional letters in Edison's hand, most of the material by Edison is written in the hand of Mallory.
The letterbooks cover business matters such as stock transactions; notices of stockholders' and directors' meetings; payment of company obligations; changes in company officers; insurance, employment, tax, and legal matters; press relations; market and economic conditions; properties leased or owned; the design and purchase of equipment; the chemical analysis, manufacture, and marketing of iron ore, briquettes, and sand; the construction, modification, and closing of the Ogden works; interest in minerals other than iron, such as gold, hematite, and molybdenite; and visitors to the Ogden works. There is some personal correspondence of Mallory and Perry, as well as letters about Edison's views on company policies and correspondence about his schedule, character, health, and family.
In addition, the letterbooks contain occasional correspondence regarding Edison's other iron ore enterprises; some letters concerning phonograph contracts, litigation, and stock; items pertaining to the price of General Electric securities and other aspects of the electric light business; and a few letters about the telephone, kinetoscope, and phonoplex business. The following individuals and companies are among the more notable recipients: Charles Batchelor, Robert L. Cutting, Jr., Walter Cutting, Herman E. Dick, William C. Frick, Samuel S. McClure, Erich Rathenau, Josiah C. Reiff, George Richards, Frank C. Roberts, William L. Saunders, Alexander Thielen, Joseph Wharton, Ingersoll Sergeant Drill Co., New Jersey Zinc Co., and Pilling & Crane.
Documents containing the following information have been selected: Edison's direct intervention in company matters, Edison's views on company policies, and aspects of Edison's character, health, schedule, or family; changes involving the West Orange laboratory, Glenmont, and other Edison properties; overviews, summaries, reports, and general descriptions of mill operations, technical procedures, company finances, or company marketing strategies; location of company offices and significant related information (such as the renaming of the Ogden site); changes in company officers, senior management, and supervisory personnel; opening and closing of major company facilities; acquisition of other companies; descriptions of company products, such as iron ore briquettes and sand; statements of current or anticipated company earnings; insurance material revealing the condition or value of property; non-ore milling documents relating to other Edison companies (excluding routine orders from the Concentrating Works for equipment and supplies).
Documents concerning the following subjects have not been selected: the acquisition or disposition of tracts for mining purposes; employment matters involving non-managerial employees, unless revealing significant information about mill operations; employee injuries; the purchase of equipment and supplies, unless revealing significant information about design; construction or modification of specific buildings, unless involving Edison directly; specific orders for iron ore, briquettes, or sand, unless revealing significant information about the product or customer; ore sample analyses, unless revealing significant information about the product; insurance premium payments; stock transactions, especially calls for payments and notices of stockholders' meetings; payment of company financial obligations; personal correspondence by Mallory and others. In addition, the index at the beginning or end of each book has not been reproduced. One letterbook (LM-203) is too fragile to be reproduced (see below).
Although every technical effort has been made to ensure the legibility of the documents, some of the materials are difficult to read because of faint ink, spreading ink, bleed-through, discolored paper, or wrinkled pages. In particular, some of the documents are written in a very faint green ink. One letterbook (LM-201) presents especially severe legibility problems.