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This collection contains printed documents that were issued by the various Edison companies. Included are official reports, instruction manuals, lists of equipment and devices, price lists, reprints of scholarly papers, and promotional brochures. The documents are organized into three groups: electric light companies; phonograph companies; and other domestic companies. Within the electric light and phonograph groups, materials pertaining to domestic and local companies precede those relating to foreign companies.
In addition to the unbound materials, there are two bound volumes of pamphlets for the period 1887-1898. One volume, whose spine is stamped "Instructions for Operating the Edison System of Central Station Lighting" and "J. H. Vail N.Y. City" contains instructional brochures collected by John H. Vail. An inscription by Vail on the flyleaf, dated January 1915, notes that "this book is the only copy in existence of instructions for building, and operating, the Edison Electric Light Stations." All but three of the items in this volume have been selected. The second volume, whose spine is stamped "Edison Electric Pamphlet," contains promotional and instructional brochures issued by the Edison Electric Light Co. and several other Edison companies. Seven items from this volume have been selected.
Some of Edison's companies also issued serial publications. One of the earliest was the Phonogram, which began publication in January 1891 with Virginia H. McRae as its business manager. The journal characterized itself as "the official organ of the Phonograph Companies of the United States." Though not technically an Edison company publication, it offered news, feature stories, and promotional material about Edison and his products. The Edison National Historical Park holds an incomplete run of this journal. The first extant issue, dated June 1892, has been reproduced as a sample.
The following categories of documents have not been selected: items issued by local electric light and phonograph companies, by foreign electric light companies, and by other companies (such as General Electric Co. during the late 1890s) in which Edison was not directly involved; pamphlets and circulars that are entirely promotional in character; items that duplicate the information in selected documents.