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History

Thomas Edison

This past Saturday, I got to fulfill a dream I’ve had since I was twelve years old, which was to visit Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village, in Dearborn Michigan. In particular, I wanted to finally visit the recreated Menlo Park laboratories of Thomas Edison. When I was growing up, I read every biography of Edison I could find, starting with Enid Lamonte Meadowcroft’s The Story of Thomas Alva Edison (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1952), with the drawing of him doing a chemical experiment in his boxcar laboratory on the cover. It was this book that got me interested in science, and probably led (indirectly) to my becoming an engineering librarian. I’m sure I read a couple of dozen biographies of Edison, and talked my father’s ear off for years about him. So this visit to Greenfield Village was a long time coming.

I got there just as they were opening up, and I’m sure that I was the most enthusiastic customer they had all day.  A gentleman downstairs demonstrated an early phonograph for me, recording his voice saying “Welcome to Greenfield Village!” on tinfoil and playing it back.  Upstairs, I spent a good forty minutes talking about Edison and his amazing life with Jerry, a retired history teacher who now works at Greenfield Village.  I had a fabulous day.  This post is a small tribute to Edison and his inventions.  I’ve included a few interesting links below, for your Ed-ification.

Edison at Work – Menlo Park and Fort Myers Laboratories – Dearborn, Michigan

Thomas Edison Papers (Rutgers University) – includes links to digital versions of his papers.

Thomas Edison National Historic Park – the West Orange Laboratories, New Jersey

Biography – The Boy’s Life of Edison. William H. Meadowcroft. New York: Harper & Bors. Pub., 1911.  This is another biography of Edison that I read when I was a teenager.  This is a full text, downloadable PDF file on Google Books.

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About Ed Eckel

I am a engineering and applied sciences librarian at Western Michigan University.

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