Records document Charles Eisler, a Hungarian immigrant who was a skilled mechanic and engineer and his company, Eisler Engineering Company of Newark, New Jersey, which manufactured equipment for producing electric lamps, television and radio tubes, welding equipment and laboratory equipment.
Scope and Contents:
The bulk of the materials date from the 1930s to the 1950s and document Charles Eisler's contributions to the modern lamp making industry. There is considerable personal information documenting Eisler and his family, and his connection to his native Hungary. The collection is divided into 9 series: personal materials; business materials; employee records, operating records; diagrams and drawings; litigation and patent records; photographs; and scrapbooks.
Series 1, Personal Materials, 1944-1970, is divided into six subseries: Passports and Naturalization Certificate, 1910-1970s; Photographs, 1912; Chronological Correspondence, 1944-1970; Alphabetical Correspondence, 1941-1969; Family and Friends Correspondence, 1956-1966; Vacation Information, 1951; Financial Information, 1960-1967; and Medical Bills and Information, 1963-1967.
There are several passports (United States and German) for Eisler and his United States naturalization certificate of 1910. The photographs, 1912, are from Eisler's friend, Ed Korn. The photographs depict an airplane that Eisler created drawings for and two individuals, Bert Berry (parachutist) and Tony Januss, a pilot at Kinloch Field, St. Louis, Missouri.
The chronological correspondence, 1944-1970, is arranged chronologically. It contains letters about Hungarians and Hungarian issues; invitations to social events and speaking engagements; thank you letters; letters of condolence; donations; birthday greetings; and club memberships. Eisler was active in the Newark, New Jersey, Hungarian community. He donated equipment, clothes, and money to a variety of organizations that assisted Hungarians in the United States and in Hungary. Some of the correspondence was written by Mrs. R. Testa, secretary to Charles Eisler.
The alphabetical correspondence, 1941-1969, is arranged alphabetically. It consists of letters documenting such issues as stock in Eisler Engineering Company, personal purchases of Eisler's at the Ivanhoe Lobby Gift Shop by the Sea Hotel, and "Help the Suffering Hungarians" organization (1956-1961). This includes canceled checks from donors, specifically Operation Mercy to assist refugees from Budapest. Additionally, there is correspondence and itemized price lists for food and clothing for Hungarians. Of note is some Raritan Yacht Club (R.Y.C.) of Perth Amboy, New Jersey, materials. There is a R.Y.C. Duffle Bag newsletter, February, 1964. Eisler was a member of R.Y.C.
Family and friends correspondence, 1956-1966, includes letters and postcards from family and friends, mostly in Hungarian. Topics discussed include sending food, clothing, hearing aids, and medicine to Hungarian refugees; Christmas packages; emigration; and U.S. Relief Parcel Service receipts.
Vacation information, 1951, consists of one file folder of documentation of airline tickets, baggage tickets, tour itineraries, receipts from hotels, letterhead from hotels, and itemized lists of purchases for several trips Eisler made. Airlines ephemera represented include Pan American World Airways System; Air France; British Overseas Airways Corp; Trans World Airlines, Inc; and Eastern Airlines.
Financial information, 1960-1967, contains investment securities (certificates) information for Massachusetts Investors Trust; consolidated checking account information; lists of personal donations, personal income, and savings accounts. Eisler's personal donations varied greatly, both in amount and in the type of organization—American Hungarian Studies Foundation at Rutgers, Father Flanagan's Boy's Home; and the Jewish Community Council of Essex County, New Jersey.
Medical Bills and Information, 1963-1967, consists mostly of bills from doctors for services rendered.
Series 2, Business Materials, 1885, 1931-1985, is divided into seven subseries: correspondence, general files, financial information, World War II boards and regulations, real estate holdings and investments, articles, and Kahle Engineering.
Correspondence, 1946-1971, is arranged alphabetically by surname or company name. It contains a variety of issues—real estate, accounting, legal representation, and tenants. Attorneys Kessler and Kessler handled Eisler vs. General Electric Company. There is correspondence about meetings, depositions, and reviewing documents before filing. The tenant information includes assignments and agreements between individual tenants and the landlord, Lesire Corporation, which Eisler owned.
General Files, 1931-1985, contains files arranged alphabetically on a variety of topics.
Financial Information, 1931-1945, is mainly comprised of Treasury Department and Internal Revenue correspondence, and income tax documentation
World War II Boards and Regulations, 1942-1946, contain information about manpower, labor, and production during World War II for the manufacturing industry. The National War Labor Board contains wage rates and audit information for Eisler Engineering. The Manpower Commission established the total manpower allowance for Eisler Engineering and other companies. It set specific quotas for the number of male employees permitted. The War Production Board material includes a plant report of operations. It describes the product being made and categorizes the percentage of "war" versus "civilian" work. The War Department Plant Protection Division contains notes and recommendations for Eilser Engineering Company to implement.
Real Estate Holdings and Investments, 1932-1980, consists mainly of tax and stock returns and income information and cancelled notes for collateral with the Lesire Corporation. The record of real estate, 1952-1974, contains ledger sheets for seven separate properties with the name of the property, improvements if any, and address: Farm Flagtowne, Neshanic, New Jersey; 733 S. 12th Street, Newark, New Jersey; 735-737 S. 12th Street, Newark, New Jersey; 738-758 S. 13th Street, Newark, New Jersey; 16 N. Salem Street, Dover, New Jersey; 269 E. Blackwell Street, Dover, New Jersey; and Lad Construction. The ledger sheets also include a loan record with rents and mortgage receivable information. The Avenue L files document a factory building owned by Eisler in Newark, New Jersey. The files contain correspondence, receipts, and bills for work done on the building in preparation for sale.
Articles, 1885-1962 (not inclusive) includes four articles relating to the topic of electricity.
Kahle Engineering, 1960-1982, contains Dun and Bradstreet analytical reports from 1960 to 1964 and interoffice correspondence with Steven Logothetis, an employee of Kahle Engineering, interoffice memos, credit profiles, notes, mortgage papers, and information sheets for specific properties for purchase at public auction for the period 1979-1982.
Series 3, Employee/Personnel Records, 1940-1988, is divided into ten subseries: personnel files; accident reports; lists of employee names; service years and anniversaries; union (IUE AFL-CIO) agreements; benefits (health and pension); deceased employees; payroll information; electrical license course; Department of Labor; and miscellaneous.
The bulk of this series consists primarily of employee personnel files from the 1940s to 1960s. Arranged alphabetically by surname, the files contain employee record cards, employee applications, in some instances photographs (head shots), tax withholding exemption certificates, medical forms, union dues information, union steward reports detailing grievances and appeals, correspondence, recommendations, unemployment benefit payments, workers compensation, paychecks, and applications for United States citizenship and visa requests. The employee record cards capture the employee name; address; social security number; department; occupation; title; clock number; phone number; race; marital status; date of birth; number of children; stating rate; increases; vacation taken; country of birth; entry into the United States; naturalized and, if so, when and where; former employees and any union grievances. It provides a comprehensive view of the employee composition of the company.
The accident reports, 1958-1988, are arranged chronologically by year and then further arranged alphabetically by employee surname. These accident claim forms used by Eisler Engineering Company are for the New Jersey Manufacturers Casualty Insurance Company of Trenton, New Jersey. Additionally, there are blank State of New Jersey accident forms. There is some correspondence about specific claims and employees. There is one file folder documenting injuries and illness, 1971-1978. It consists of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) forms completed by Eisler Engineering. They provide a summary of the types of injuries and illnesses, number of lost work days, number of cases and a supplementary record of occupational injuries.
Lists of employee names, 1957-1977, provides information on employees who left employment, were laid off, owed union dues; years of service to the company, birthdays, addresses, and job descriptions.
Service years and anniversaries, 1955-1970, provides the employee name, when employment began, years of service and if a service pin was awarded.
Union (IUE AFL-CIO) agreements, 1942-1957 contain union contracts and agreements between Eisler Engineering Mutual Employees Association, Inc., and the International Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (IUE-AFL-CIO).
Benefits (health and pension), 1957-1967, contains information on dental benefits, hospital service plans, Group Health Insurance (GHI) Inc., claim forms for medical care insurance, and the annual report of District 4 IUE, AFL-CIO Welfare Plan for 1957.
Deceased employees, 1946-1951, consists of form letters with the employees name, address, next of kin, date of death, and the amount of unpaid salary due.
Payroll Information, 1940-1973, includes deduction of wages or salary forms for union dues, plans for enrolling in the U.S. Savings Bond program, canceled payroll checks, forms for requesting vacation, and bonus and merit increases for employees.
Electrical License Course, undated, includes homework assignments, tests, and answers to questions, in lessons/courses on: compound generators, DC (direct current) self-excited generators, power, combination circuits, parallel circuits, split phase/resistance-start induction run motors, electricity, and compound motors.
Department of Labor, 1944-1956, contains employment reports and public contracts and minimum wage determinations. There is statistical information on the type of employee (male, female, non-white, and part-time) and a report of current and anticipated employment.
Miscellaneous contains one file folder with an undated Department of Labor and Industry letter about a highly desirable labor pool of technical, skilled, and semi-skilled workers becoming available.
Series 4, Operational Records, 1934-1977, is divided into two subseries: Equipment Quotes, 1960-1977, were prepared by Eisler for clients/companies in the United States and in foreign countries. The quotes include details about the machine requested and its price.
Operating Instructions and Parts Lists, 1934-1940s, are arranged predominately by machine number, but there are some exceptions. The files include drawings and sketches, operating instructions on assembling and disassembling, black and white photographs, charts, and product literature. There are some documents that were not created by the Eisler Engineering Company. These documents include operating instructions and drawings from other companies that Eisler had a working relationship with. The instructions, [1934-1945?], arranged alpha-numerically, are operating instructions for machines manufactured by the Eisler Engineering Company. The instructions are labeled D-1 to D-800. These instructions should be used in conjunction with the other operating instructions for specific machines. For example, instructions D-1 are for Eisler machine No. 00, a coil winding machine
Series 5, Diagrams and Drawings, 1924-1960, is divided into two subseries, wiring diagrams and drawings. The wiring diagrams 1934-1956, are arranged by type and provide instructions and diagrams on how to connect wires for Eisler machines. The drawings, 1924-1960, include blueprints, tracings, sketches and in some instances, specifications for specific machines. The name and number of the machine are listed. Also, the drawings contain factory layouts for companies in the United States and in Leningrad, Russia.
Series 6, Sales Records, 1924-1984, is divided into three subseries: customer sales lists, lamp machinery sales records, and catalogs. The Customer Sales Lists, 1951-1958, and the Lamp Machinery Sales Records, 1929-1958, include detailed information for each machine built and shipped to a client: shop number, job number, type of machine, machine number, customer name, customer order number, Eisler order number and date shipped, and a serial number if applicable. There are some lists for customer requested machines such as exhaust machines, stem machines, and base filling machines.
The catalogs, 1924-1979, are arranged into two sub-subseries, Eisler catalogs and other companies' catalogs. The catalogs are further arranged chronologically and are bound or consist of loose pages and individual bulletins. They provide information on incandescent lamps, power transmission tubes; neon tube signs; tungsten equipment and wire; burners, torches, fires, gas and air mixers; metal sprayers; bases; furnaces; vacuum flasks; ampules and vials; vacuum pumps; and electric welders.
Index cards for Eisler Engineering Anniversary Catalog 1945, are arranged by machine number and contain the machine name with a description, pricing information, and in some instances a date and annotations. Each card has a page number that correlates to the Anniversary Catalog No. 45-CE, 1945.
Series 7, Litigation and Patent Records, 1897-1953 (bulk 1926-1929), 1949, 1953, consist of briefs (for the defendant, Eisler, and plaintiff, General Electric) and the transcript of record in the case General Electric vs. Charles Eisler and Eisler Engineering Company, 1926-1929. The litigation was heard in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New Jersey and U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Third District. GE brought suit against Eisler for infringement of two U.S. patents, #1,128,120 for manufacturing glass rods and forming spiders, and # 1,220,836 for a filament support wire inserting machine. Eisler allegedly infringed by manufacturing and selling a hook inserting machine.
There is one file folder of newspaper clippings about anti-trust in lamp manufacturing and specifically conclusions to the Opinion for the case United States of America vs. General Electric Company, 1953. GE, Corning Glass Works, N.V. Philips Gloeilampenfabriken, Consolidated Electric Lamp Company, Hygrade Sylvania Corporation, Chicago Miniature Lamp Works, and Tung-Sol Lamp Works, Inc., were found guilty and in violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. GE, in particular, negotiated agreements through its wholly-owned subsidiary, International General Electric that divided the world lamp markets. This division permitted GE to have the U.S. market exclusively and bar foreign lamp manufacturers. The domestic licensees' growth was limited by GE to a fixed percentage of its own production and expansion so that over the years a licensee's share of the business was diminished. This restrained trade, and competition by GE unlawfully monopolized the incandescent electric lamp business.
A separate case involving Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co. vs. Beacon Lamp Co., Leopold Rossbach, C. L. Shoninger, A.H. Moses, L.E. Whicher and J.T. Hambay from 1896 to 1898 is also documented through the brief for the complainant and a record of the case.
Patents, 1913-1931, are further divided into tube patents, 1924-1931 and tube patents assigned to Raytheon Company, 1913-1929. The patents were assembled by Eisler for reference.
Series 8, Photographs, 1944-1967, is further divided into six subseries: machines by number, CAMS; timers; jigs; transformers and electrodes; welders; welders, tips, jigs and fixtures; and miscellaneous. The series contains 8" x 10" black and white prints. Originally organized in three- ring binders, the photographs are arranged by machine number with further numerical identifiers. For example, Machine No. 103 is a glass lathe machine and No. 103-XL is a vertical glass lathe machine.
CAMS are curved wheels mounted on a rotating shaft and used to produce variable or reciprocating motion in another engaged or contacted part. They are used to produce or machine something. Tips refer to the remnant of the glass tubing through which the lamp was exhausted of its air (as well as filled with inert gases after the invention of the gas-filled lamp in 1912) and jigs are devices for guiding a tool or for holding machine work in place.
The majority of photographs document machinery; few employees are featured.
Photographs for Machine No. 170, can working equipment at vacuum products, features African American workers circa the 1950s and Machine No. 160, an automatic tub bottoming machine features a female employee. Some of the miscellaneous photographs contain prints of equipment, parts and employees working in the factory.
Series 9, Scrapbooks, 1916-1959, includes three scrapbooks. Many of the articles are in Hungarian or Spanish.
Scrapbook, 1943 (bulk 1945-1955), 1959, contains newspaper articles about Charles Eisler and Eisler Engineering Company. Many articles and advertisements focus on specific machines Eisler manufactured. Articles about Charles Eisler contain information about the associations he belonged to, litigation, awards received, Lesire Corporation, his tenant company; and the appointment of Charles Eisler, Jr., as President of Eisler Engineering Company. Other items include company Christmas cards.
Scrapbook, 1916-1944, 1948, 1957, contains newspaper clippings and catalog pages on machines manufactured by Eisler; personal information about Charles Eisler's trip to Europe; a fire at his summer home; and Christmas decorations. There is documentation on Eisler Engineering Company employees, World War II contributions and production, and photographs of Charles Eisler presenting a donation to the Newark Hungarians and the U.S. Army Ambulance Branch.
Scrapbook, 1924-1959, contains convention programs, Family Circle information, documentation on various social events Eisler attended and machine advertisements.
Collection organized into nine series.
Series 1, Personal Materials, 1910s-1970s
Subseries 1, Passports and Naturalization Certificate, 1910-1970s
Subseries 3, Timers, Jigs, Transformers, and Electrodes, 1952-1960
Subseries 4, Welders, 1944-1952
Subseries 5, Welders, Tips, and Jigs and Fixtures, 1944-1952
Subseries 6, Miscellaneous, 1944-1957
Series 9, Scrapbooks, 1916-1959
Biographical / Historical:
Charles Eisler (1884-1973) was born in Hungary to Adolph and Helen Eisler. Charles was the second child of nine: George, Emil, Michael, Leopold, Rudi, Franz, Emma and Lajos. Eisler completed his engineering and mechanical studies by the age of 17 and began an apprenticeship with a local factory. He became a licensed steam engineer and fireman of high pressure boilers. In 1902, he left Hungary for Berlin, Germany, with the goal to immigrate to the United States. In Germany, Eisler worked in a factory in Eberswalde, north of Berlin. The factory manufactured cast-iron pipe and machinery, and Eisler operated a crane loading barges near the factory. Eisler left Eberswalde and returned to Berlin to work as a toolmaker at Allgemeine Electricitäts Gesellschaft' (AEG). He arrived in New York City on the SS Potsdam/Stockholm (I) in November 1904. Because Europeans dominated the field of skilled mechanics and tradesmen in the United States, Eisler easily found employment in East Pittsburgh at Pittsburgh Westinghouse. In 1907, Eisler worked for Studebaker Metzger Motor Company as a tool-designer and tool room foreman.
Eisler returned to Hungary in the spring of 1912 where he took a job as a tool designing engineer with an American owned electrical firm, Standard Electric Company, in Újpest. He married Frieda Schwartz Eisler (d.1962) on December 24, 1912, in Budapest. They had four children: Charles Eisler, Jr., Martha (Eisler) Leff; Ruth (Eisler) Forest; and Constance (Eisler) Smith. In 1914, Eisler, his wife Frieda, and their newborn son Charles, Jr., returned to the United States. Eisler worked at the Westinghouse Lamp Company in Bloomfield, New Jersey, designing machines for building incandescent lamps with tungsten wire. At Westinghouse, Eisler held the position of chief engineer of the equipment division, and he completed the International Correspondence Schools course in mechanical engineering (1918). Eisler left Westinghouse in 1919 to work for Save Electric Corporation of Brooklyn, New York (an independent lamp manufacture), formed by Max Ettiger. At Save Electric, Eisler was equipment engineer superintendent and responsible for designing machines for the production of incandescent lamps.
General Electric (GE), Westinghouse, and RCA had a monopoly on modern incandescent lamp making machinery. The manufacture of lamps and tubes had moved from a low-rate, highly skilled craft work of Edison's Menlo Park to a high-rate, semi-skilled process dominated by GE and others. It was difficult for independent lamp manufacturers, such as Save Electric, to compete. The control and licensing of machinery patents was one method GE used to maintain a virtual monopoly on lamp manufacture throughout the first half of the 20th century. GE purchased Save Electric in 1920 to remove it from the incandescent lamp market. That same year, Eisler lost his job and started his own company, Eisler Engineering Company, to consult and manufacture equipment for producing electric lamps, television tubes, radio tubes, glass products, neon tubes, welding equipment and laboratory equipment. He established a machine shop at 15 Kirk Alley, Newark, New Jersey, where he redesigned many of his machines and drawings and started patenting. By 1924, Eisler's plant doubled in physical size and labor supply, with the radio tube industry peaking in 1929.1 However, the stock market crash of 1929-1930 severely impacted production, and Eisler never again saw the same growth. In 1929, Eisler sold a 49% interest in the company to Frank Bonner.
In June 1933, Eisler and others organized a group of independent manufacturers into the Incandescent Lamp Manufacturer's Association (ILMA). In response to the pressuring tactics of GE, Westinghouse and RCA, the group also documented every lamp maker who went out of business or that was bought by a monopoly member. The ILMA allowed members to pool their resources for patent litigation. "Eisler was the third leading outside supplier of lamp making machinery. It was not licensed by General Electric, and the unlicensed lamp manufacturers obtained most of their lamp making equipment from it. The Eisler equipment was less automatic and of considerably less speed than the machinery used by the General Electric group. However, it was considerably lower in price."2
Eisler Engineering Company was sued at least four times by GE between 1923 and 1928 for alleged patent infringement but won each case. The cases involved four United States patents owned by GE: Van Keuren #1,326,121; Mitchell and White #1,453,594; Mitchell and White #1,453,595; and Marshall #1,475,192. The last three patents address a process used in the manufacture of electric lamps known as "sealing in" of tip-less lamps. The plaintiff, GE, complained that Eisler, the defendant, was infringing. Several GE patents were declared invalid during the proceedings or were withdrawn, and Eisler's U.S. Patent #1,637,989 for tip-less lamps was upheld. See General Electric Company vs. Eisler Engineering Company, 20 F (2d.) 33 (C.C.A., 1927), 26 F (2d.) 12 (C.C.A., 1928), and 43 F (2d.) 319 (C.C.A., 1930). One of Eisler's strongest defenses was a 1916 article he published in Machinery on Tungsten Lamp Manufacture. Eisler defended his case not only for the interest of his own company but also for those who utilized his products as well as those who manufactured under a licensing agreement with Eisler Engineering Company.
In 1954, Charles Eisler, Jr., formerly vice president became president of Eisler Engineering Company, Inc., and Charles Eisler, Sr., became chairman of the board. In 1958, Eisler Senior officially stepped down. In the late 1970s, Eisler, Jr., sold the company to Kahle Engineering Company. Kahle, established in 1920 with its roots in the glass machinery business, provided equipment for the medical device, pharmaceutical, electrical and automotive industries. Today, Kahle focuses solely on the manufacture of assembly machines for medical devices.
Eisler was issued fifty-seven United States patents relating to the mass production of glass articles. His first patent was issued in 1916 (U.S. Patent # 1,209,650) for a turret attachment and his last was issued in 1958 (U.S. Design Patent # DES 182,796) for a spot welder/press type. Eisler received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, New Jersey (1951) and was elected to life membership in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (1952). He died on October 8, 1973 at the age of 89 in East Orange, New Jersey.
1 Eisler, Charles. The Million-Dollar Bend (New York: William-Frederick Press, 1960).
2 Bright, Arthur. The Electric Lamp Industry (New York: Macmillan Co., 1949).
Materials in the Archives Center
Kahle Engineering Company Records, 1930-1980 (AC0735), the successor company to Eisler Engineering
Materials in Other Organizations
Rutgers University Special Collections and University Archives have some Eisler Engineering Company trade literature in the Sinclair New Jersey Collection: New Jersey Trade Literature and Manufacturers' Catalogs at http://www.libraries.rutgers.edu/rul/libs/scua/sinclair/sinclair_main.shtml.
The collection was donated by E.N. Logothetis of Kahle Engineering on June 15, 2000.
Collection is open for research but the majority is stored off-site and special arrangements must be made to work with it. Series 3, Employee Records, personnel files are restrictedContact the Archives Center for information at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-633-3270.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning intellectual property rights. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
National Museum of American History (U.S.). Division of Information, Technology and Society 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.