Information, Technology and Society, Div. of (NMAH, SI). Search this
5 Cubic feet (22 boxes)
Blotters (writing equipment)
The collection documents the technology of lighting and various business aspects of the General Electric Lighting Division throughout the 20th century and consists of correspondence, bulletins, price lists, business record books, stock certificates, sales and advertising materials, scrapbooks, photographs, and lantern slides.
Scope and Contents:
The collection consists of approximately five cubic feet of correspondence, bulletins, price lists, business record books, stock certificates, sales and advertising materials, scrapbooks, photographs, and lantern slides. The collection documents the technology of lighting and various business aspects of the GE Lighting Division throughout the twentieth century.
Series 1, Historical Background Materials, 1910-1969, contains documentation on the history of the National Electric Lamp Company and the development of the incandescent lamp. The European Diary of 1928 is a narrative written by three General Electric employees—Samuel Doane, Chief Engineer, Joseph Kewley, Sales Manager, and George Osborn, Sales Manager. This narrative describes their business trip to Europe in the spring of 1928. It contains black-and-white photographs, menus, brochures, maps, postcards, and drawings detailing their travels in Paris, Nice, Milan, Venice, Berlin, Amsterdam, and England. The Record of Accomplishment, 1969, is a chronological listing (time line) of various events and/or accomplishments within General Electric.
Series 2, Executive Records, 1903-1955, consists of correspondence, annual reports, and technical standardization notices. The technical standardization notices were created by the Standardization Committee. This committee made decisions on how to facilitate and increase sales, improve quality, cheapen cost, and further the interests of the members of the Lamp Association. The reports cover a variety of subjects such as packing boxes, felt washers, high candle power lamps, and tabulating machines. Many of the reports contain black-and-white photographs. The Lamp Committee Reports seek to detail the demand for incandescent lamps and their improvements.
Series 3, House Organs, 1919-1959, contains documentation on in-house publications for General Electric. The Stimulator, 1919-1920, promoted "lighting profits and cemented friendliness, cooperation, progress, and quality." The Lamp Letter, 1947-1950, was published by the Lamp Department and dealt specifically with lamp-related issues. The Lamp Department Bulletin, 1947-1950, was produced for GE personnel and dealt with a variety of issues from sales to lamp types to licensing issues. The See Better—Work Better Bulletin, 1959, was published by the Lamp Division as a service to industrial and commercial lamp users.
Series 4, Sales and Advertising Materials, 1910-1955, includes price lists for lamps from both General Electric and other companies, manufacturers' schedules, data books, sales notebooks for sales representatives, and Edison Mazda Lamp advertising cards. The advertising cards are approximately 3" x 6" and are in color. They contain ad slogans such as "His Only Rival," "Satisfied Customer," Edison's Dream Comes True," "Have You Electricity?" and "I like Lots of Light."
Series 5, NELA School of Lighting Records, 1920-1930, documents the school, now known as the GE Lighting Institute, for training sales people and customers in the proper application of various lighting products. The records contain quarterly reports and general and lighting course descriptions.
Series 6, Business and Stock Records, 1890-1912, contains record and minute books and stock certificates from other lamp companies. The record books contain correspondence, resolutions, stockholder information, and committee reports.
Series 7, Scrapbooks and Photographs, 1890s-circa 1950, contains one scrapbook from 1923 with black and white photographs, clippings, correspondence, charts, telegrams, and booklets documenting General Electric's Nela Park location. The photo albums contain black and white photographs of staff, lamps, bulbs, tubing, tabulating, filaments, lead wires, stems, mounts, and lighting installations. The scrapbook and photo albums have indices.
Series 8, Lantern Slides, 1880-1950, consists of glass plates of Edison, images of people in the work place, and lighting equipment.
The collection is arranged into eight series.
Series 1, Historical Background Materials, 1910-1969
Series 4, Sales and Advertising Materials, 1914-1953
Subseries 4.1, Miniature Mazda Lamps, 1914-1935
Subseries 4.2, Large Mazda Lamps, 1914-1934
Subseries 4.3, Carbon Lamps, 1915-1922
Subseries 4.4, Miscellaneous, 1914-1953
Series 5, NELA School of Lighting, 1920-1930
Series 6, Business and Stock Records, 1890-1912
Subseries 1, Business Records, 1890-1912
Subseries 2, Stock Records & Certificates, 1890-1912
Series 7, Scrapbooks and Photographs, 1890s-circa 1950
Series 8, Lantern Slides, 1880-1950
Biographical / Historical:
Established in 1911, Nela Park (named for the National Electric Lamp Association) in Cleveland, Ohio, has through the present day served as both administrative headquarters and research laboratory for the development and sale of General Electric's (GE) lighting products. In the years following Thomas Edison's electric lamp invention (1879) many companies began to make and sell lighting devices. A merger of Edison Electric and Thomson-Houston Electric in 1892 created GE, which quickly grew to dominate the market. Westinghouse and several much smaller companies struggled to compete. These smaller lamp companies could not afford engineering and research facilities on a scale comparable with those of General Electric.
The National Electric Lamp Company was organized on May 3, 1901, by Franklin S. Terry (Sunbeam Incandescent Lamp Company), and Burton G. Tremaine, H. A. Tremaine and J. Robert Crouse (all from Fostoria Bulb and Bottle Company and Fostoria Incandescent Lamp Company). Terry suggested that the small companies band together to operate an engineering department, conduct lamp research and development, improve manufacturing methods, and build better lamp-making machinery. He further proposed to raise capital from and share patents with GE. This built upon an earlier organization, the Incandescent Lamp Manufacturers Association, organized by GE in 1896. The new National Electric Lamp Company was a holding company in which—unknown even to many of the smaller companies' executives—GE held a controlling (75%) interest. In 1911, GE's involvement with National became public during anti-trust proceedings. GE then purchased the outstanding stock and absorbed the smaller companies by converting them into divisional units.
Thomas Edison had, in 1882, moved his company's lamp manufacturing operation from the Menlo Park laboratory to a new facility in East Newark (Harrison), New Jersey. Named the Edison Lamp Works, this plant became the main administrative and sales facility for Edison Electric's and later GE's, lamp business. Research moved to Edison's new West Orange laboratory. In 1900, after the merger, GE established a research lab in Schenectady, New York. After forming National, Terry and B. G. Tremaine consolidated the administrative functions of that company in Cleveland and by 1910 were actively seeking space for a new office and laboratory campus. They selected a site along Euclid Avenue that was then on the outskirts of town. This became Nela Park (the "Company" had changed to "Association" in 1906). In addition to the National buildings, GE began moving its directly-owned lamp operations to Cleveland after the 1911 settlement. From 1925 through 1930 the various departments at Harrison moved to Nela Park, with the sales department being one of the last to move. GE's lighting research was carried out at both Nela Park and Schenectady.
A focal-point at Nela Park is the GE Lighting Institute, formerly known as the Nela School of Lighting. Organized by the Illuminating Engineering Section of the Engineering Department in 1921, the Lighting Institute continues to train sales people and customers in the use and proper application of various lighting products.
For additional information about Nela Park, General Electric and the National Electric Lamp Company see:
Arthur A. Bright, Jr., The Electric Lamp Industry, MacMillan, 1949.
Harold C. Passer, The Electrical Manufacturers, 1875-1900, Harvard University Press, 1953.
Leonard S. Reich, "Lighting the Path to Profit: GE's Control of the Electric Lamp Industry, 1892-1941," in Business History Review Vol. 66, pages 305-34.
Hollis L. Townsend, A History of Nela Park: 1911-1957, published by General Electric.
Materials in the Archives Center
William J. Hammer Collection (AC0069)
The Division of Work and Industry (Electricity-related collections) hold several artifacts. See accession numbers: 33,407; 43,120; 68,492; 232,822; 1997.0388 and 1998.0231.
The collection was donated to the Division of Information Technology and Society (now the Division of Work and Industry) by Mary Beth Gotti, Manager of the General Electric Lighting Institute on March 22, 2001.
The collection is open for research use.
Researchers must handle unprotected photographs with gloves.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.