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Thomas Edison collection: Finding Aid
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Content
  • Indexing Terms

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Thomas Edison collection
    Dates: 1877-1985
    Collection Number: mssEdisonThomascollection
    Creator: Edison, Thomas A. (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931
    Extent: 3 boxes
    Repository: The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens. Manuscripts Department
    1151 Oxford Road
    San Marino, California 91108
    Phone: (626) 405-2191
    Email: reference@huntington.org
    URL: http://www.huntington.org
    Abstract: The bulk of this collection is made up of historical and modern ephemera related to Thomas Edison. It also contains some of Edison's correspondence, patents, and original and reproduced photographs of Edison and his associates.
    Language of Material: The records are in English.


    Open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information, contact Reader Services.

    Administrative Information

    Publication Rights

    The Huntington Library does not require that researchers request permission to quote from or publish images of this material, nor does it charge fees for such activities. The responsibility for identifying the copyright holder, if there is one, and obtaining necessary permissions rests with the researcher.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Thomas Edison Collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Burndy Library Collection, Gift of Dibner Family, November 2006. Was MS Collection 8.

    Biographical Note

    Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931) is probably the best known American inventor of all time. His most famous invention was the light bulb, but he also invented the phonograph and the first practical storage battery, along with dozens of other impressive devices, for a total of 1,093 patents during his lifetime.

    Scope and Content

    The collection is made up of correspondence, patents, photographs, and ephemera. The correspondence includes some original and contemporary copies of Edison's letters regarding the Phonoplex System of Telegraphy, the Edison Phonograph Toy Manufacturing Co., the use of paraphenylenediamine to manufacture phonograph records, the American Fine Arts Society, and the Society for Electrical Development, as well as a letter dismissing Charles H. Davids from his post as superintendent of the West Orange laboratory. There are additional items from the Edison-Bell Phonograph Corporation, Ltd. in England, as well as correspondence between Mina Miller Edison and Lester A. Grimes regarding a signed apron made from Thomas Edison's shirt, also included in the collection.
    The collection also contains some original and reproduced photographs of Edison and his associates (many with captions by Francis Jehl, Edison's laboratory assistant), and his Bronx movie production studio. There are also photographs of Charles Edison, as well as Bern Dibner with Richard G. Berger, another laboratory assistant for Edison. The bulk of the collection is made up of historical and modern ephemera, including advertisements, clippings, pamphlets, and prints. There are also three oil paintings of Edison, one of which is signed by illustrator Howell Dodd.


    The collection is arranged in three boxes by item format:
    Box 1 contains correspondence, autographed notecards, patents, photographs, prints, and historical ephemera.
    Box 2 contains historical and modern ephemera.
    Box 3 is oversize. It contains miscellaneous ephemera, oil paintings of Edison, and photographs.

    Indexing Terms

    Personal Names

    Edison, Thomas A. (Thomas Alva), 1847-1931
    Berger, Richard G.
    Dibner, Bern
    Dodd, Howell
    Edison, Charles A., 1890-1969
    Edison, Mina Miller, 1865-1947
    Grimes, Lester A.
    Jehl, Francis, 1860-1941

    Corporate Names

    Edison-Bell Consolidated Phonograph Company, ltd.
    Thomas Alva Edison Foundation


    Electric lighting - History
    Motion Pictures - United States - History
    Phonograph - History


    Printed ephemera