Rare and historically important carbon T.L.S. with initials "T.A.E.", May 2nd 1921, to an unnamed correspondent in which Edison bluntly states that, from his personal observation, the number of clerks at the Record Office could be cut without affecting function, in part: "...In the Record Room on the 2nd floor in 21 building are 14 girl clerks besides Lucy Nicolai. I went over there and stood in the doorway this afternoon and gave them quite a shock. Luck Nicolai was away off in deep thought, and some of the other girls were coupled up visiting about, possibly business. I understand how very natural it is for anyone to do a little chatting now and then, but what would happen if Mr. Michie was asked to cut that office force 33 1/3%? Seems to me if a certain percentage absolutely had to be cut out, then the managers came to you and said it simply could not be done, just put an Inspector on to find out what the reason was. I feel pretty sure that four or five could be let out of that office and yet get the same results, for I doubt very much if Lucy Nicolai does a great deal as far as work is concerned ... but likes quite a few under her, like her father. I think it would stand investigating..." *Six months before this letter was written, Edison returned to the company he founded after a four year absence in Washington. As he saw it, his first order of business was to regain control of his sprawling industrial conglomerate in West Orange that he had been forced to neglect during the war. He waited no longer than October to initiate a purge of most of the employees his son Charles had hired in his absence; and the recession of 1921 was his justification for cutting payroll in half. By laying off an additional 1650 employees of the Phonograph Works. He evenutally fired 5/6ths of the entire engineering force and finally, a like proportion of bookkeepers, copyrighters, and clerks. Those who survived had their wages slashed and told to forget about Christmas bonuses. In the end he made it clear that he had no scruple to fire some of his own long-serving aids, unmoved by the lesser luck and ill fortune of others. By the time his son Charles was able to intercede, nearly 60,000 jobs were purged. Our letter, directly related to this episode, is historically important as it shows Edison's unprecedented ability to micro-manage his conglomerate: hiring and firing the most esteemed engineers to the lowly clerks assigned to the Record Office. Some historians refer to this episode as the 'Dark Period' in the long and prosperous career of Thomas Edison, and not surprisingly, it has been buried in the annals of history. Fine condition. Provenance: David Schulson Autographs.
American inventor who successfully filed over 1000 patents including #A10659, better known as the incandescent bulb.
Condition: Very Good