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The eighty-five notebooks in this subseries cover the period June 1911-December 1920. In addition to seventy books with dated entries, there are fifteen undated books that were probably also generated during this period. The thirty-seven books for 1911-1916 consist primarily of notes and drawings pertaining to the development and manufacture of Blue Amberol and Diamond Disc records. Included are references to recording experiments involving various recorders, horns, and studio furnishings, as well as experiments with the electroplating, molding, pressing, and transfer processes involved in disc record manufacture. Some of the books from this period relate to storage battery experiments such as the rejuvenation of old positive electrode tubes and other battery components. There are several notebooks from 1915 pertaining to chemical experiments, including notes regarding the construction of benzol absorbing plants and methods of obtaining phenol. Some of the books were used by Edison in his laboratory at Seminole Lodge, his winter home in Fort Myers, Florida.
The seventeen notebooks from January 1917-January 1918 relate primarily to research performed for the U.S. Navy during World War I. Much of this work was done in connection with submarine detection. Included are numerous experiments on the recording, amplification, and measurement of sound. There are also notes on other war-related topics such as rangefinders, camouflaging techniques, methods for positioning guns in trenches, and methods of generating smoke and fog for use by merchant ships at sea. Some of the experiments were performed at Sandy Hook, New Jersey, while others were conducted aboard the USS Sachem in Long Island Sound. A few books contain information from Naval intelligence reports and other material copied from published sources. The results of Edison's research were incorporated into letters and reports submitted to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels that can be found in the Naval Consulting Board and Wartime Research Papers (Special Collections Series), Josephus Daniels Papers (Library of Congress), and the Edison Wartime Research Reports (Charles Hummel Collection).
The remaining thirty-one notebooks begin in May 1918, following Edison's return to West Orange from a three-month stay in Key West, Florida. Many of the entries in the books from the summer and fall of 1918 were made in the garage at Glenmont, Edison's home in Llewellyn Park, where he continued to work on sound detection experiments for the U.S. Navy. There are also notes pertaining to salts and solutions for use in primary batteries, the processing of lithium ores, the construction of disc record blanks, and chalk telephone (electromotograph) experiments. The books for 1919 and 1920 continue the lithium processing, chalk telephone, and disc record experiments begun in 1918. There are also notes on the development of a starting storage battery for Ford automobiles. The entries for these later books reveal the convergence of Edison's work on battery and disc record manufacture in terms of electroplating.
In addition to the experimental notes, there are a few books with entries of a more theoretical character. For example, N-22-00-00.1, with dated experimental entries covering the period July-September 1917, also contains undated speculations by Edison in regard to ether, light and optics, astronomy, electricity, electromagnetism, gravitation energy, and other topics. There are also occasional references to Edison's longstanding interest in "xyz rays."
Most of the entries in these books are by Edison, but there are occasional notes by other experimenters, as well as numerous references to employees who assisted Edison in his work. Among the experimenters mentioned are Jonas Walter Aylsworth, James M. Burns, Peter C. Christensen, Charles T. Dally, Harry R. Grimes, John A. Hanley, William A. Hayes, Archiebald D. Hoffman, Miller Reese Hutchison, Sherwood T. (Sam) Moore, Frederick P. Ott, and Ludwig F. (Louis) Ott.
All of the books have been selected. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.