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The eighteen books in this set contain notes and drawings relating to experiments conducted by Batchelor, Edison, and others during the years 1874-1909. The two earliest books, covering the period June 1874-September 1878, deal with a wide range of topics including electric lighting, the electric pen, the phonograph, telegraphy, and telephony. Many of the entries on telegraphy and telephony pertain to Batchelor's own inventions. The remaining books are primarily concerned with electric lighting experiments during the years 1878-1886. Of particular importance is a shop order book (Cat. 1308) used in 1879 and 1880 to record experimental devices made in the machine shop at the Menlo Park laboratory. Four other books (Cat. 1301, 1302, 1303, 1235) contain a numbered set of electric light experiments. The first three books deal exclusively with lamp tests, while the fourth contains a wide range of electric light experiments and tests. A few notebooks also contain entries pertaining to ore milling and miscellaneous other technologies from the late 1880s through the first decade of the twentieth century.
All of the notebooks relating directly to work performed for Edison have been selected, with the exception of one book from the 1890s recording routine ore assays for Edison's mining operations. Three other notebooks have not been selected: two books from the early 1880s (not by Batchelor) containing tests of French storage batteries and comparisons of Edison's electric lighting system with other systems; and one personal notebook containing notes and experiments by Batchelor from 1889 through 1905.