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Several interrelated sets of technical notes and drawings constitute the Notebook Series. They are as follows: (1) Notebooks by Edison (85 books); (2) Notebooks by Edison and Other Experimenters (69 books in 6 groups); (3) Notebooks by Experimenters Other Than Edison (796 books in 8 groups); (4) Pocket Notebooks (35 books).
For a discussion of the numbering systems used for Edison's notebooks, click here.
Notebooks by Edison. These standard-size notebooks, which generally measure 6 inches in width and 9 inches in length, were used primarily by Edison, but there are occasional notes by other experimenters as well as numerous references to employees who assisted him in his work. The thirty-seven books for 1911-1916 consist primarily of notes and drawings pertaining to the development and manufacture of Blue Amberol and Diamond Disc records. There are also entries regarding storage batteries and chemical experiments. Seventeen notebooks from January 1917-January 1918 relate primarily to research performed for the U.S. Navy during World War I. Much of this work was done in connection with submarine detection. The remaining thirty-one notebooks begin in May 1918, following Edison's return to West Orange from a three-month stay in Key West, Florida. In addition to military-related experiments, there are notes pertaining to salts and solutions for use in primary batteries, the processing of lithium ores, the construction of disc record blanks, and chalk telephone (electromotograph) experiments. All eighty-five books have been selected.
Notebooks by Edison and Other Experimenters. These standard-size notebooks, which generally measure 6 inches in width and 9 inches in length, are arranged into six groups. The entries in the initial notebooks in many of the groups are mainly by Edison, whereas the later books, generated after the pattern of tests had been established, record the work of other experimenters. The first three groups pertain to phonograph records. The notebooks in Group 4 were used during World War I for experimental work for the U.S. Navy and other war-related research conducted under the auspices of Edison. Group 5 contains data on battery cell tests performed at Edison's request, while Group 6 consists of two books of miscellaneous experiments. Among the Edison employees whose work is represented in these books are Walter N. Archer, E. Rowland Dawson, William Deans, William Walter Dinwiddie, William A. Hayes, Archiebald D. Hoffman, Absalom M. Kennedy, Sherwood T. (Sam) Moore, Harold H. Smith, George J. Werner, and Henry G. Wolfe. The fifty-six notebooks with evidence of Edison's involvement or oversight have been selected.
Notebooks by Experimenters Other Than Edison. These standard-size notebooks, which generally measure 6 inches in width and 9 inches in length, are arranged into eight groups. About two-thirds of the books pertain to storage batteries. There are also eighty-two books relating to cylinder and disc records, as well as nineteen containing experiments on Edison's home projecting kinetoscope and kinetophone (motion pictures with sound). In addition, there are thirty-one books that were used during World War I for experimental work for the U.S. Navy and other war-related research; eighty-one books of chemical experiments; and a few books pertaining to electric vehicles and miner's safety lamps. Among the Edison employees whose work is represented in these books are Leroy E. Briggs, Peter C. Christensen, Charles T. Dally, Frank Detlef, Jr., William Walter Dinwiddie, Elmer E. Dougherty, Zachariah P. Halpin, John A. Hanley, George E. Hart, William A. Hayes, Charles F. (Frank) Hunter, Miller Reese Hutchison, Absalom M. Kennedy, Ludwig F. (Louis) Ott, and Selden G. Warner. Sixty-four books, which have indications of oversight or involvement by Edison, have been selected.
Pocket Notebooks. These standard-size notebooks, which generally measure 4½ inches in width and 6 inches in length, were used by Edison to record ideas about business matters, experiments to be tried, and other tasks to be performed. The books relate to a variety of topics, including primary and storage batteries, disc and cylinder records, cement, and motion pictures. Thirteen books for 1916-1918 pertain primarily to submarine detection experiments and other research performed for the U.S. Navy during World War I. In addition to technical notes and drawings, there are notes about inventions to be patented, songs and recording artists, phonograph and record sales, advertising ideas, legal and patent matters, costs and salaries, and personnel issues.