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Several interrelated sets of technical notes and drawings constitute the Notebook Series. They are as follows:
For a discussion of the numbering, arrangement, and indexing of the notebooks, click here.
Notebooks by Edison.
These standard-size (6" x 9") books contain notes, drawings, and calculations regarding phonographs, phonograph records, storage batteries, cement, ore supplies and processing, motion pictures, and other subjects. In addition to experimental research notes, there are occasional partial drafts of patent applications, lists of projects to complete, and items relating to Edison's plans for the laboratory or manufacturing sites, as well as speculative observations concerning electricity, acoustics, electromagnetic radiation, and thermodynamics. Although most of the entries in these books are by Edison, there are a few by associates such as Francis R. Upton and laboratory employees such as Otto Groethe, Ludwig F. Ott, and Alexander N. Pierman.
Notebooks by Edison and Other Experimenters. These standard-size (6" x 9") books, which are arranged into ten groups, were used by Edison and other experimenters. The entries in the initial notebooks in many of the groups are mainly by Edison, whereas the later books, generated after the pattern of tests had been established, record the work of other experimenters. Most of the notebooks belong to groups of numbered storage battery books. In addition, there is one group of notebooks pertaining to the composition of phonograph record blanks and another group containing the results of ore assays. Among the Edison employees whose work is represented in these books are Ralph Arbogast, Charles Dally, Ignacy Goldstein, Otto Groethe, O. A. Rogers, and Ademor N. Petit.
Notebooks by Experimenters Other Than Edison. These standard-size (6" x 9") books, which are arranged into eight groups, were used primarily at the West Orange laboratory, although some contain work performed at other locations, including the Edison Storage Battery Co. The books consist of notes, drawings, tables, and calculations regarding a variety of subjects, including storage batteries, cement, and phonographs. In addition, there are records of tasks done at the chemical laboratory within the West Orange complex. Among the Edison employees whose work is represented in these books are Ralph Arbogast, Alvin D. Caskey, Cloyd M. Chapman, Ignacy Goldstein, Walter E. Holland, John F. Ott, Ludwig F. Ott, John C. Shengle, and Francis R. Upton. The books contain occasional notations and drawings by Edison that indicate his attention to the work performed.
Miscellaneous Notebooks. These ten notebooks, which are larger than the standard-size laboratory notebooks, served primarily as clean copy records, into which experimental plans and results were transcribed or in which data was tabulated. Three notebooks were used by Edison during the period 1902-1904 and annotated by him in later years. They contain compilations and transcriptions of notes and drawings on numerous topics, including batteries, electromotographs, phonographs, telephones, and other apparatus. There are also references to experiments involving chemistry, electricity, magnetism, radiation, and thermodynamics. Six notebooks, which were used by experimenters other than Edison, cover the period 1904-1911 and consist of graphs representing the performance of batteries. Another notebook, used by Edison in 1907, contains tests on the solubility of lithium compounds.
Unbound Notes and Drawings. These loose items relate to a variety of subjects, including the development, manufacture, and use of storage batteries, phonographs, and phonograph records. Also included is material pertaining to experiments with various chemical processes, acoustic and electromagnetic devices, concrete construction, and the development of a synchronous-play phonograph and kinetoscope called the kinetophone. Many of the items are by Edison. There is also material by John F. Ott, George E. Small, Albert F. Wurth, and other employees.
All of the entries in Edison's hand appearing in the bound notebooks have been selected except for the occasional perfunctory notations appearing in notebooks by other experimenters. All of Edison's unbound notes and drawings have also been included except for a few rough notes and calculations for which no context is available.
A more restrictive approach has been taken for notes and drawings by experimenters other than Edison. Notebooks and unbound material relating to experiments done at the West Orange laboratory have generally been selected, with the exception of the extensive runs of storage battery test books and other highly repetitive material. Samples consisting of entries that can be closely associated with Edison have been selected in these cases.
Notebooks and unbound material pertaining to routine technical work done at the laboratory have generally not been selected. In many cases, these items represent the work performed by the laboratory in its role as an auxiliary service facility for Edison's manufacturing companies. Examples include the assays conducted on behalf of Edison's ore exploration and cement manufacturing endeavors and the qualitative analyses of chemicals required in the development and production of storage batteries.