June 25-27, 1997
Rutgers University-Newark and the Edison National Historic Site

In recognition of the 150th anniversary of Thomas A. Edison's birth, the National Park Service, Organization of American Historians and New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance are pleased to announce a three-day conference, "Interpreting Edison."

This conference, which will be held June 25-27, 1997 at Rutgers University-Newark and the Edison National Historic Site, will examine the interpretation of Edison's life and work in academic scholarship, at museums and historic sites, and in the classroom. Scholars from the United States, Canada and Europe will present new research on Edison's role as inventor, business leader and cultural figure. Representatives from five major U.S. Edison-related sites will discuss their interpretative and museum management programs. There will also be a series of sessions designed to help teachers integrate Edison-related themes into the history curriculum. The opening plenary session features remarks by distinguished scholars Ruth S. Cowan, David Nye, Thomas J. Schlereth, John M. Staudenmeier, and Alan Trachtenberg.

Other highlights of the conference include a virtual tour of Edison's reconstructed Menlo Park Laboratory at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan; lunch on the grounds of Edison's estate, Glenmont; and a demonstration of the Library of Congress early motion picture webpage. Edison descendant and University of New Haven professor David Edison Sloane will speak about the Edison family at the conference banquet.

The basic registration fee of $30 covers the cost of all lunches, coffee breaks and reception at the Robeson Campus Center. An additional $20 will be charged for the Glenmont lunch and $35 for the conference banquet.

Further Information

For more information about the conference, registration or hotel accommodations, please contact:

Leonard DeGraaf
Edison National Historic Site
Main Street and Lakeside Avenue
West Orange, New Jersey 07052

201-736-0550, ext. 22


DAY 1. Wednesday, June 25, 1997 (Robeson Campus Center) 8:00-9:00 am Registration, coffee 9:00-9:15 Introductory remarks 9:15-9:45 Opening Keynote: To Be Announced 9:45-12:00 Edison in US History Ruth S. Cowan, State University of New York-Stony Brook David E. Nye, Center for American Studies, Odense University Thomas J. Schlereth, University of Notre Dame John M. Staudenmeier, University of Detroit-Mercy Alan Trachtenberg, Yale University Moderator: Richard Waldron, New Jersey Historical Commission 12:00-1:00 Lunch 1:00-3:00 Concurrent Session (2 hours) Session 1A The Wizard Hits the Market: The Commercialization of Edison's Inventions "The Edison Manufacturing Enterprises and the Emergence of Modern Marketing" David B. Sicilia, University of Maryland "Edison in Transition: Marketing the Electric Pen" Jill E. Cooper, Rutgers University "Selling Electricity: The Edison Sales Campaign" Mary Ann Hellrigel, Case Western Reserve University "Edison in the Mass Market: The Commercial Development of the Amusement Phonograph" Leonard DeGraaf, Edison National Historic Site Moderator: David B. Sicilia Session 1B Circuits of Invention at Edison's Laboratory "Reading the Social Voices in the Edison Archives" Charles Bazerman, University of California at Santa Barbara "An African-American in the Edison System: The Assimilation of Lewis Howard Latimer" Rayvon Fouche, Washington University "Record Labels and the Paper Chase from Invention to Product" Lisa Gitelman, Rutgers University Moderator: W. Bernard Carlson, University of Virginia Session 1C Teacher's Seminar: "The Extraordinary Mr. Edison" Scotia-Glenville, NY Children's Museum Claudia McLaughlin, Executive Director 3:00-3:15 Coffee Break 3:15-5:15 Concurrent Sessions (2 Hours) Session 2A "Puzzles in Progress: The Later Edison Inventions" "Start at the Top and Work Down: Edison and the Fluoroscope" George D. Tselos, Edison National Historic Site "The Miracle Battery: Edison and the Electric Vehicle, 1895-1915" Gilbert P.A. Mom, HTS-Autotechnich, Hogeschool van Arnhem en Nijmegen, Arnhem, the Netherlands "Rubber from Goldenrod: Edison's Final Quest" Andrea C. Dragon, College of St. Elizabeth Moderator: Theresa Collins, Rutgers University Session 2B Teacher's Seminar: Moving Images as Historical Artifacts" John E. O'Connor, New Jersey Institute of Technology/Rutgers-Newark Session 2C The Personal Edison "Edison the Man -- A New Perspective" Neil Baldwin, Author, Edison: Inventing the Century "Life With a Great Man: A Biographical Sketch by Mina Miller Edison" Deirdre A. Yates, Seton Hall University Moderator: David Edison Sloane, University of New Haven 5:15-6:15 Reception, Robeson Campus Center 7:30-9:00 Banquet, Gateway Hilton "A Room of One's Own: Thomas Edison and His Children" David Edison Sloane, University of New Haven DAY 2. THURSDAY, JUNE 26, 1997 (Morning Session at Robeson Campus Center) 8:00-8:30 Coffee 8:30-12:00 Interpreting Edison at Historic Sites and Museums 8:40-9:00 Donald Gfell, Edison Birthplace Museum, Milan, Ohio 9:00-9:30 Steve Williams, Port Huron Museum, Port Huron, Michigan 9:30-10:00 Michele Wehrwein Albion, Edison-Ford Winter Estates, Fort Myers, Florida 10:00-10:15 Coffee Break 10:15-11:00 Virtual Tour of Edison's Reconstructed Menlo Park Laboratory Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village 11:00-11:30 Andre Millard, Edison's West Orange Laboratory 11:30-12:00 Discussion Moderator: Dwight T. Pitcaithley, Chief Historian, National Park Service 1200-5:00 Edison NHS Tour/Glenmont Lunch 12:00-12:30 Travel to Edison NHS 12:30-2:00 Glenmont Lunch 2:00-4:30 West Orange Laboratory Tour 4:30 Return to Newark NO PROGRAM SCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY EVENING Day 3. Friday, June 27, 1996 (Robeson Campus Center) 7:30-8:00 Coffee 8:00-10:00 Concurrent Sessions (2 hours) Session 3A Edison and Motion Pictures "Edison, Dickson, Ramsaye and Hendricks: With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies" Paul C. Spehr, Library of Congress "Thomas Edison and the Impossible Archeology of the Cinema" Michael Punt, University of Wales, College Newport "Trick or Treat? Anxiety and Pleasure in Turn of the Century Film" Meryem Ersoz, University of Oregon "The Presence of Edison Films in Quebec up to World War I" Pierre Veronneau, Cinematheque Qu,b,cois, Montreal Session 3B Edison in Great Britain: An International Perspective "Edison as Viewed Through British Eyes" Brian Bowers, Senior Curator, Science Museum, London Edison's Impact on Britain: Engineering, Business and Popular Perceptions of Electricity, 1878-90" John F. Wilson, University of Leeds "Thomas Edison's British Phonograph Business" Peter Martland, Cambridge University, Corpus Christi College Moderator: Richard Sher, New Jersey Institute of Technology/Rutgers-Newark Session C Teacher's Seminar: Bringing Edison into the Classroom "Edison Pioneers Are Our Ancestors" Barbara Brewer, Capital High School, Olympia, Washington "Studying Remarkable Failure and Unremarkable Success: Themes From Edison's Work in the 20th Century" Gregory Field, University of Michigan at Dearborn "The Edison Company's Domestic Policy: Products For Every Purse and Purpose" Barbara Markham, Padua Academy, Wilmington, Delaware Robert Gabrick, White Bear High School, White Bear Lake, Minn Moderator: Karen Sloat-Olsen, Edison National Historic Site 10:00-10:15 Coffee Break 10:15-12:15 Concurrent Sessions (2 hours) Session 4A Edison and the Electric Light "Edison and Alternating Current: The Defender's Dilemma" George Wise, General Electric Company "Without Cost to the City: The Awarding of the Edison Electric Illuminating Company's Franchise in New York City" Brian Adkins, Rutgers University "Edison and J.P. Morgan: The Battle over Electrical Manufacturing" Joseph P. Sullivan, Rutgers University "Everything But the Kitchen Sink: Edison at the 1884 Philadelphia International Electrical Exhibition" Jane Mork Gibson, Philadelphia, Pa Moderator: Paul B. Israel, Thomas A. Edison Papers, Rutgers University Session 4B Edison as Cultural Icon "Reinventing the Inventor: Images of Edison over the Years" Marianne Berger Woods, Meadville, Pennsylvania "Model for Magic: Edison as Enduring Personification in Imaging Progress" Amy Sue Bix, Iowa State University "Between Art and Hubris: Edison in Villiers d'Isle-Adam's L'Eve Future" Kai Mikonnen, University of Tampere, Finland Moderator: Christopher Sellers, New Jersey Institute of Technology/Rutgers-Newark Session 4C Will the Real Thomas Edison Please Stand Up? First-Person Interpretations of Edison Hank Fincken, Indianapolis, Indiana Peter Small, Whittier, California Drew Wilson, Mission Viejo, California Moderator: Sarah E. Henrich, Historical Society of Rockland County 12:15-1:15 Lunch 1:15-1:45 "Films from the Black Maria" Charles Musser, Yale University 1:45-2:30 "Screening Edison on the Web" Library of Congress, National Digital Library Thomas A. Edison Papers Project 2:30-2:45 Coffee Break 2:45-3:30 Cylinder Phonograph Sound Recording Demonstration Jerry Fabris, Edison National Historic Site Peter Dilg, Recording Expert Institute of Jazz Studies, Rutgers University 3:30-4:00 Summary Keynote: "Can I Still Call him Al? A Former Edison Staffer Looks Back on Edison History" Edward Jay Pershey, Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland, Ohio

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