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The Menlo Park Scrapbooks were begun in 1878 and 1879 by William Carman and Francis Upton. During the 1880s new books were added to the set, and older ones were periodically updated. The first fifty-seven scrapbooks (Volumes 1-40), which were indexed by Edison's staff, appear in Thomas A. Edison Papers, Part I (1850-1878). The remaining scrapbooks (there were probably about 150 books at one time) contain clippings from the years 1880 and 1881, along with scattered clippings from the years 1882-1889. Most of the books are less than half full, and they relate primarily to technical and scientific matters that were peripheral to Edison's own work.
Most of the clippings in the Menlo Park scrapbooks are from technical and scientific journals, although some are from popular magazines and newspapers Only four books, which contain significant material pertaining to Edison's activities, have been selected: (1) Volume 45 (Cat. 1062), which contains miscellaneous clippings about Edison; (2) Volume 51A (Cat. 1068) and (3) Volume 51B (Cat. 1069), both of which relate to the Edison exhibit at the Paris Electrical Exhibition of 1881; and (4) Volume 67 (Cat. 1085)>, which deals with Edison's patent litigation and with other patent-related matters.
The contents of the selected scrapbooks have not been reproduced in their entirety. Some of the scrapbooks contain oversize clippings that cannot be completely unfolded without obscuring other clippings. Moreover, it is not uncommon for many successive pages in a technical journal to be pasted onto a single scrapbook page. Each scrapbook page has been reproduced at least once, in such a manner as to convey the greatest amount of bibliographic and substantive information about the clippings on the page. Substantive clippings that are directly concerned with Edison and his inventive or business activities have been reproduced in their entirety.
Immediately following is a list of volume numbers and titles, which provides some indication of the variety of subjects found in the scrapbooks. These titles and volume numbers appear on labels attached to the spine or to the inside cover of each book. For scrapbooks with missing or illegible labels, a title has been supplied (in brackets) based on the contents of the book. Volume numbers have also been supplied whenever the number appears on the clippings themselves or when the subject of an unnumbered volume matches that of other volumes at a point where there is a missing number.