Our digital edition (also known as a digital archive or digital library) is composed of items and item sets. "Item" is a generic term that can describe things like letters, correspondence, notebooks, scrapbooks, account books, and other types of documents. Items are grouped in "sets" that represent the folders and volumes of the physical archive.
This site provides powerful search capabilities enabling users to search for over 25,000 individual and organizational names in a database of nearly 150,000 documents. These documents encompass a period of rapid industrialization and growth in the scale of enterprise from the Civil War to the onset of the Great Depression. In addition to Edison’s well-known contributions to the development of electric light and power, sound recording, and motion pictures, they also document his contributions to many other industries; including telecommunications (telegraph and telephone), electric batteries, mining, chemical production, cement manufacture, and office and home appliances. They include records of his pioneering laboratories and of the numerous companies he established at home and abroad. In addition they provide extensive documentation of his family and of his role as a symbol of American ingenuity.
Most of the documents come from the extensive archives of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park and were scanned from our microfilm edition. In addition, there are documents from nearly 150 other repositories and private collections. The edition will eventually include Edison's 1,093 U.S. Patents and over 500 motion picture catalogs produced by American producers and distributors between 1894 and 1908.