Thomas Edison’s West Orange laboratory to be recognized as a National Historic Chemical Landmark
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The American Chemical Society will recognize the chemical research and developments of inventor Thomas Alva Edison (1847–1931) as a National Historic Chemical Landmark in 2014. Applications of chemistry were a common theme in many of his inventions, including the carbon filaments used in light bulbs, plastic materials used in phonograph records, development of the nickel-iron alkaline electric storage battery, and research into domestic sources of rubber.
Edison’s work will be celebrated at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange on Friday, June 6, 2014, in partnership with the North Jersey Section of ACS. A community festival for families, Edison Day, will follow on Saturday, June 7. For updates and information, visit www.acs.org/landmarks. Also see
Edison opened his West Orange laboratory complex in 1887 as an expanded site for research and product development. The complex was among the most modern and well-equipped industrial research facilities in the world and included a chemical laboratory and library of chemical information to support Edison’s expansive research, as well as chemical manufacturing operations and factories to produce Edison’s inventions. Chemical developments originating from the West Orange laboratory included plastics and waxes for disc and cylinder phonograph records, nickel-iron alkaline electric storage batteries, and improvements to the manufacture of Portland cement.
Additional celebrations of Edison’s work in chemistry will be held by the ACS at the present-day locations of his laboratories. Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory will be recognized at The Henry Ford, Greenfield Village, in Dearborn, Mich., on September 20, 2014, in partnership with the Detroit Local Section of ACS. The Menlo Park lab was moved from its original site in New Jersey to Dearborn in 1928 when it was reconstructed by Edison’s friend Henry Ford. The Edison Botanical Laboratory at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates will be commemorated on May 25, 2014, in Fort Myers, Fla., in partnership with the ACS South Florida Section.
The American Chemical Society established the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program in 1992 to recognize important achievements in the history of the chemical sciences. Subjects recognized through this program have included Bakelite, the world’s first synthetic plastic; the discovery and development of penicillin; and the work of historical figures such as Joseph Priestley, George Washington Carver and Selman Waksman. More information is available online at www.acs.org/landmarks.
Thomas Edison National Historical Park is a National Park Service site dedicated to promoting an international understanding and appreciation of the life and extraordinary achievements of Thomas Alva Edison by preserving, protecting, and interpreting the Park’s extensive historic artifact and archive collections at the Edison Laboratory Complex and Glenmont, the Edison family estate. For more information call 973-736-0550 ext. 11 or visit: www.nps.gov/edis. ✎
Schedule of Events on Friday, June 6, 2014
- 10:00 am – Edison’s laboratory complex opens for self-guided tours
- 1:30 pm – Chemistry laboratory opens with National Park Service staff available to answer questions
- 2:30 pm – National Historic Chemical Landmark Presentation Ceremony
- Welcome & opening remarks by Tom Ross, National Parks Service, Superintendent of the Thomas Edison National Historical Park
- Presentation by Paul Israel, Director and General Editor of the Thomas A. Edison Papers at Rutgers, on “Chemical Solutions: The Role of Chemistry in Thomas Edison’s Inventive Work”
- Presentation of award by Ned Heindel, ACS Past President & H. S. Bunn Chair Professor of Chemistry at Lehigh University
- 4:00 – 5:00 pm – Reception for invited & registered guests
Note: The reception is free, but attendees are requested to register in advance.
Venue: Thomas Edison National Historical Park, 211 Main Street, West Orange, NJ 07052
Schedule of Events on Saturday, June 7, 2014
June 7 is Edison Day in West Orange NJ — an event that is held annually, but this it’s linked to the dedication of the Laboratory as a National Historic Chemical Landmark, and is quite special.
Edison Day is filled with family-oriented activities, demonstrations, and special topic talks that offers something for everyone, running from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. All entry fees are waived at the park on Edison Day.
Full details are here: details.
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