The West Orange Laboratory Records Series is composed of bound volumes, loose correspondence, unbound drawings, and account books that deal mainly with administrative operations at the laboratory complex. The records are arranged in eight subseries: (1) Notebooks; (2) Letterbooks; (3) Accounts; (4) Equipment and Supplies; (5) Oversize Drawings; (6) Pocket Notebooks [not selected]; (7) Bound Volumes [not selected]; and (8) Employee Records [not selected].
Many of the documents in the Laboratory Records Series can be found in the record group of the same name in the archives of the Edison National Historical Park (ENHP). A finding aid is available. The ledgers, journals, and other accounting records in this series are primarily from the Account Books record group. Laboratory records bearing N-numbers and PN-numbers are interfiled in the archives with other notebooks and pocket notebooks. Payroll and time documents are from the record group Employee Records.
Notebooks. These books, which bear archival N-numbers, contain material regarding the administration of experimental projects, pattern work done in connection with laboratory projects, assays of ore samples, orders of equipment for the laboratory, and inventory and supplies. Included are several project number notebooks used to assign sequential numbers and provide information for each experimental project. Among the individuals whose work appears in these books are Edison, Robert A. Bachman, Alvin D. Caskey, George A. Meister, John F. Ott, and Ludwig F. Ott. Much of the material is by unidentified storekeepers and office personnel.
Letterbooks. These two letterbooks deal mainly with routine orders of equipment and supplies. Also included are documents that illustrate the progress of construction at the Edison Portland Cement Co., the design and construction of molds for Edison's poured concrete house, and the purchase and repair of automobiles used to test Edison's storage battery.
Accounts. These books contain records of experimental and operating costs, Edison's royalties and investments, and other personal and business accounts. Included are ledgers and subsidiary ledgers, journals, abstracts of expenses, invoice books, and cash books.
Equipment and Supplies. The unbound correspondence, trade circulars, and other loose documents in this subseries relate to the purchase of equipment and supplies for the laboratory and other Edison interests. Many of the documents are unsolicited promotional circulars or routine letters involving the specifications, availability, cost, and delivery of equipment and supplies. Included are memoranda asking that materials be ordered; requests for prices or samples; and letters acknowledging orders from, or shipments to and among, Edison's interests. In most cases the information or materials were requested on Edison's behalf by members of his laboratory staff. A small group of items indicates his direct oversight of individual requests or purchases.
Oversize Drawings. These three blueprints are ground plans for the Edison Phonograph Works and the laboratory complex in West Orange. The first plan is from 1899, the second is from 1909, and the third is undated but is probably from 1911. Included on each plan is an index to the numbers and names of many of the buildings. The blueprints appear with the oversize material from the Notebook Series on reel 179.
Pocket Notebooks [not selected]. These books, which bear archival PN-numbers, contain labor records, assays of ore samples, and utility usage records. Most of the material is by unidentified storekeepers and office personnel.
Bound Volumes [not selected]. These books consist of logbooks, notebooks, and other bound volumes that do not have archival N- or PN-numbers. They contain material concerning the administration of experimental projects, orders of equipment for the laboratory, assays of ore samples, and inventory and supplies. Also included are labor records, telephone logs, and other administrative records. Most of the material is by unidentified storekeepers and office personnel.
Employee Records [not selected]. The ENHP archives contains an extensive collection of employee records. Included are individual weekly time sheets, tickets, stamped and rolled clock records, and other periodic payroll documents pertaining to the staff and activities of Edison's Menlo Park and West Orange laboratories. Also included are payroll accounts for numerous Edison companies. Most of the items provide daily or weekly statements for individual employees. Each laboratory time sheet generally denotes the exact hours worked by an employee in a single week, and many also indicate the projects upon which he worked. The projects are identified by number. These numbers correspond to those assigned in the project number notebooks. Most of the records pertaining to Edison companies are from the period 1910-1932, though a few date from as early as 1894. The Employee Records collection is mainly organized chronologically, not according to the names of individual employees. A finding aid for the record group, Employee Records, is available at the Edison National Historical Park.