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The Legal Series consists primarily of agreements and other legal documents, along with some related items such as correspondence, financial documents, and litigation records. The documents appear in three subseries: (1) Harry F. Miller File; (2) Richard W. Kellow File; and (3) Miscellaneous Legal File.
The first two files were maintained by Edison's secretaries or by officials in his companies. The Miscellaneous Legal File contains documents of a similar character, not part of any formal legal file, which have been gathered and organized as part of the files of the Legal Department of Thomas A. Edison, Inc.
Harry F. Miller began his association with the Edison laboratory in 1888 in the office of John F. Randolph. In 1908 he succeeded Randolph as Edison's private secretary. Miller also served as an official in several Edison companies, including the National Phonograph Co. and Thomas A. Edison, Inc. Most of the documents in the Miller File date from the nineteenth century.
On the other hand, the majority of items in the Richard W. Kellow File were generated during the first three decades of the twentieth century. Kellow, who succeeded Miller as Edison's personal business secretary, was head of Thomas A. Edison, Personal, a unit of the Secretarial Service Dept. of Thomas A. Edison, Inc, from 1916 until 1921. The few significant documents in the Kellow File that relate to the period 1887-1898 have been selected, along with other important items from the period 1879-1886.
It is not uncommon for multiple copies or variant versions of the same document to appear in both the Harry F. Miller File and the Miscellaneous Legal File. Occasionally, multiple copies or variants can also be found within a particular file. In addition, many agreements and other legal documents were subsequently reproduced as exhibits in court cases (see Litigation Series). For most legal documents, the signed original (if available) has been reproduced. If a signed original cannot be found, the copy that most closely approximates the final document (generally the court exhibit) has been selected. Drafts have also been selected whenever they are in Edison's hand and in cases where there are significant variations between a draft and the final document.
Documents of a legal or quasi-legal nature also appear in numerous other series. Memoranda by Edison regarding proposed contracts, along with drafts in his hand that possibly were never drawn up into formal agreements, are filed in the Document File. Correspondence between Edison and his attorneys can also be found in the Document File and in the Letterbook Series. A number of agreements and other legal documents involving Edison and members of his family appear in the Family Records Series. Agreements and other legal documents relating to the New Jersey and Pennsylvania Concentrating Works and to other Edison companies appear in the Company Records Series. Records pertaining to the law practice of Edison's attorney, Alexander Elliott, Jr., can be found in the Alexander Elliott, Jr., Papers (Special Collections Series). Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.