Part VI: 1920-1931 (forthcoming)

Photo: Thomas A. Edison.

Part VI will document the last dozen years of Thomas Edison's life. Despite his advancing age, Edison remained active in the laboratory, executing thirty-five successful patents and generating (along with his assistants) more than one thousand laboratory notebooks. Although best remembered during this period for his efforts to develop a domestic source of rubber, Edison also continued to make improvements in the storage battery, phonograph, and disc records. For the first half of this period he also actively participated in the operations of his businesses, presiding over a postwar economy campaign that led to the departure of several top–level managers and drastically reduced employment in the company's plants. At the same time, he worked on improving production methods, particularly in record manufacturing, and developing more effective sales techniques. After some initial resistance, he also agreed to expand into the radio business. Equally significant, Edison continued to play the role of cultural icon—a role exemplified by his participation in the 1929 Golden Jubilee of the incandescent light. Edison's opinions on political and economic, as well as scientific and technical, topics were eagerly sought by the press and are documented in thousands of newspaper clippings and magazine articles.

Part I || Part II || Part III || Part IV || Part V || Edison-Miller Family || Outside Repositories