This folder contains correspondence, interoffice communications, and other documents relating to Edison's phonograph business. Many of the items for 1918 pertain to Edison's need to react quickly to the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in Boston Store of Chicago v. American Graphophone Co., 246 U.S. 8 (1918), that the existing pricing systems in the phonograph industry violated antitrust laws. Included are communications between Edison and senior company officials Stephen B. Mambert and William Maxwell regarding the development of new contracts with dealers and jobbers. Also included is a draft letter from Edison to Henry A. Guiler, assistant to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, asking for a delay in legal proceedings against his company, along with a telegram from U.S. Attorney Francis G. Caffey agreeing to a postponement. A communication from U.S. Attorney General Thomas W. Gregory to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels indicates that Edison used his connection with Daniels to obtain the delay.
Other subjects covered in the documents include the technical qualities of phonographs, their use as recording devices, Edison's record manufacturing operations, recording artists, and general business conditions. Also included are laboratory reports on disc record surface noise and a nine-page communication to Edison from research engineer William Walter Dinwiddie regarding the conflict between quality and output in disc record manufacturing. Several letters refer to a visit to the Recording Division studios in New York City by financier Thomas E. Murray and his daughter for the purpose of making personal song recordings. A letter from Elwood Ivins of the Ivins Tube Works contains reminiscences about a meeting with Edison's father Samuel in Port Huron, Michigan.
At the end of the folder are eleven pages of undated notes and drawings by Edison, possibly from 1918, relating to phonograph reproducer points. Another undated item is a handwritten communication from Edison to Maxwell concerning the selection of musical recordings, in which the inventor expresses his own liking of jazz and ragtime songs and his distaste for "highbrow stuff."
The correspondents include B. N. Burglund, chief electrician of the U.S. Navy submarine base in San Pedro, California; Prof. Walter K. Rhodes of Bucknell University; Ensign E. C. Wortman of the U.S. Navy Yard in Charleston, South Carolina; and Edison employees George E. Clark, Newman Henry Holland, Walter H. Miller, and Walter Stevens. In addition there are letters from H. H. Hollis of Columbus Grove, Ohio, and Dennis McNeill of Huntington, West Virginia, who submitted technical ideas for phonograph improvements, which were evaluated by chief engineer John P. Constable.
Approximately 20 percent of the documents have been selected. Most of the unselected items are suggestions for inventions and improvements, which received replies explaining why they were not feasible or not of interest, or requests to have a specific musical selection recorded and issued. Also unselected are letters seeking information about the Edison phonograph, requests for discounts, shipping instructions, cover letters, and a few poems and songs submitted to Edison and not returned. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.