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The unbound clippings cover the period 1899-1910. Most of the items were sent to Edison by clippings services. They are primarily taken from newspapers and popular magazines, although some are from trade publications, technical journals, and other printed sources. The articles and interviews pertain to a variety of subjects, including the development and promotion of Edison's inventions and the personal affairs of Edison and his family. Included are clippings relating to the personnel, activities, and legal affairs of Edison's various companies, as well as articles about phonographs, phonograph records, motion pictures, and storage batteries. There are also clippings concerning Edison's cement plant at Stewartsville, New Jersey; his plans for a poured concrete house; and his efforts to develop a combined phonograph and motion picture machine and a process for the exploitation of dry placer gold claims. Also included are items relating to the suicide of Edison's secretary, John F. Randolph; a kidnaping threat against his daughter, Madeleine; the marriages of his sons, Thomas A. Edison, Jr., and William Leslie Edison; and the travel, property holdings, and recreational activities of Edison and his family. Some of the articles bearing an Edison by-line were probably prepared for him by his associates, and some are the result of interviews with journalists at the West Orange laboratory.
The clippings are arranged in rough chronological order within each year. In many cases, several small newspaper clippings of differing dates are taped onto the same sheet of paper. Some sheets also contain archival notations referring to the Document File folder in which the clipping was at one time filed. Other archival inscriptions can be found throughout. Because of their deteriorating condition, all of the newspaper clippings at the Edison National Historical Park are being photocopied, and the originals discarded. The clippings presented in this edition constitute a mix of originals and photocopies. Some may be difficult to read because of the discolored paper. There are also a few negative photostats of journal articles that may present legibility problems.
Less than 20 percent of the clippings for 1899-1910 have been selected. Many of the items not selected are based on wire service reports that were widely circulated and carried in numerous papers. In such cases, one version of the report has been selected as a sample.