These documents relate to the benzol absorption plant built by Edison at the works of the Woodward Iron Co. in Woodward, Alabama. The plant, which was jointly owned by Edison and the Japanese firm of Mitsui & Co., produced benzol, toluol, solvent naphtha, and naphthaline. The correspondents include engineer William H. Mason, who oversaw the construction of the plant; plant manager Claude H. Opdyke; and Mitsui executive Shunzo Takaki. Also included are communications involving Edison's son Charles, his personal business secretary Richard W. Kellow, and his personal assistant William H. Meadowcroft, who managed the inventor's chemical business.
Included are items pertaining to the shipment of chemicals to fulfill contracts with customers such as the Hercules Powder Co.; the transfer of chemical sales from Edison's personal office to Frederick D. Lockwood of Thomas A. Edison, Inc., in November 1916 and subsequently to Archibald C. Emery of New Jersey Products, Inc.; and the takeover of the plant in March 1918 by the Woodward Iron Co., according to Edison's original agreement with them. Other selected documents include daily reports from the beginning of production in the summer of 1915, bearing comments by Edison and Meadowcroft, as well as periodic financial statements showing Edison's and Mitsui's share of the profits in their joint venture.
Approximately 5 percent of the documents have been selected, including all substantive items relating to Edison's interests or involvement in the Woodward plant. The unselected material includes routine correspondence regarding shipping, routing, billing, accounting, drum return, and technical operations. Also not selected are rough financial notes, insurance statements, most daily production reports, production log books, and routine shipping papers. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.