Paul Israel, Ph.D., Director and General Editor
Paul Israel has made the study of American invention and innovation his specialty. A former Californian, Dr. Israel came East more than two decades ago to do research for a book on Thomas Edison and the electric light. After he joined the staff of the Edison Papers, he earned his Ph.D. in history. Today he is the Director and General Editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers, the State University.
The Edison Papers provides leadership in publishing and developing the documentary legacy of America’s most prolific inventor and innovator. The documents include the writings, drawings, and business records of Edison. To date the project has produced six volumes of The Papers of Thomas A. Edison as well as an online edition with nearly 200,000 document images. The Edison Papers are also working to advance the Edisonian legacy through interdisciplinary initiatives in young and higher education. In 2005 the Edison Papers received a special retrospective Eugene S. Ferguson Prize from the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) as an outstanding and original reference works that will support future scholarship in the history of technology. This unique retrospective award was given to the Edison Papers as a model work published since the founding of SHOT in 1958. The Edison Papers also co-sponsors the Edison Awards for achievement in innovation by business leaders and for best new products.
In 2000, SHOT awarded Dr. Israel the prestigious Dexter Prize for Edison: A Life of Invention (John Wiley & Sons, 1998). In the book, Israel shows how Edison transformed invention into a modern process of innovation by carefully managing his inventions, overseeing their market uses, and involving himself in profits and promotions. His other books include From Machine Shop to Industrial Laboratory: Telegraphy and the Changing Context of American Invention, 1830-1920 (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1992) and Edison's Electric Light: Biography of an Invention (Rutgers University Press, 1986), written with Robert Friedel.
In addition to his three books, Dr. Israel has been examining technological creativity, the origins of modern innovation, and technological enterprise in a series of articles, reviews, and media appearances. He has been a frequent consultant to projects seeking material about Edison and his inventions, including the Edison National Historic Site, exhibits such as "Lighting a Revolution," at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, and documentaries including "Edison," an A&E Biography Series, among many others. He currently is a Steering Committee member for the Edison Awards.
Dr. Israel also teaches occasional graduate and undergraduate course in the history of technology.