Thomas A. Edison Papers (Module 19)
Inventor, businessman, scientist, industrialist, entrepreneur, engineer—Thomas Alva Edison developed many of the technologies that have shaped the modem world. Perhaps more than anyone else, Edison integrated the worlds of science, technology, business, and finance. Edison's work laid the foundation for the age of electricity, recorded sound, and motion pictures. In addition, he used team research and development with such great success at his Menlo Park and, West Orange, New Jersey, laboratories that he helped introduce the era of modem industrial research.
The life, work, and vision of Thomas Edison are documented in the laboratory notebooks, diaries, business records, correspondence, and related papers that have survived since his death. Access to these papers is a boon to scholars in many areas of study: the history of science and technology, business and economic history, the history of popular culture, film history, social and labor history, and other diverse interests. Because of the massive quantity of material and its limited accessibility, these resources have been neglected.
The Edison Papers show directly the interrelatedness of technological innovation and cultural change. Edison's development and promotion of inventions such as the phonograph and the kinetoscope and his marketing of sound recordings and motion pictures both reflected and disrupted the cultural practices of his time. Students of American culture will find these records of special interest.