Thomas Edison's 1915 Disc Record Vault Restoration Eligible for National Park Service Centennial Challenge Matching Funds

The restoration of Thomas Edison's 1915 Disc Record Vault at Thomas Edison National Historical Park is one of 201 proposals National Park Service Director Mary Bomar and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne announced at a press conference in Yosemite National Park to celebrate the 91st anniversary of the NPS. Restoration of the historic disc record vault is one of nearly $370 million of proposals eligible for centennial challenge matching funds.

After a devastating fire burned his West Orange Phonograph Works in 1914, Thomas Edison built the Disc Record Vault for fireproof storage of his disc metal masters. Restoration of the vault will provide a museum-quality home for the metal masters, which are currently in need of a long-term storage location. Through a new, secure, weather-proof glass door, visitors to be able to look inside the vault, and learn about the 1920s manufacturing process of phonograph records. Edison used the metal masters to produce "working molds", which pressed Edison Diamond Disc phonograph records in quantity.

The priceless collection of 9700 discs includes almost every surviving master of the music produced by Thomas A. Edison, Incorporated between 1910 and 1929. Recorded in New York City and European cities, music on the metal masters includes a vast array of culture and history: Tin Pan Alley pop songs, classical music, opera, brass band marches, ragtime, minstrelsy, early jazz, old-time country music, and spirituals. Foreign series discs include music by Scandinavian, Finnish, Yiddish, Cuban, Mexican, Czecho-Slovakian, Polish, and Russian performers.

Superintendent Randy Turner said the Edison Innovation Foundation of Newark, New Jersey has committed matching money for the restoration of the historic vault.The Edison Innovation Foundation is a non-profit group dedicated to preserving the legacy of America's greatest innovator. George Keegan, Executive Director, said that the Foundation, incorporated in 1996, was created in response to the crisis facing the historic buildings and collections at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park in West Orange, New Jersey. To protect these national treasures, the Edison Innovation Foundation formed a partnership with the National Park Service and is leading an international capital campaign for improvements at the Thomas Edison National Historical Park and for an endowment fund to ensure the continued preservation of Edison's legacy at sites across the country.

The Edison Innovation Foundation also promotes Edison's legacy through its programs (including the Adventures of Young Thomas Edison), online experiments for children and teachers (see www.thomasedison.org), and the Edison Innovation Awards, which honor America's "new Edisons" - the people and companies that carry on Edison's ideals and vision and continue to change our world through innovation. The Edison Innovation Foundation is committed to educating the next generation of great innovators, using Edison and his "Invention Factory" as the foundation.

National Park Service Director Bomar said, “The centennial challenge is a critical element in the National Park Centennial Initiative put forward by President Bush and unveiled by Secretary Kempthorne one year ago. The full centennial initiative is a potential $3 billion investment in our national parks, two-thirds of it a public-private partnership of matching money.” The President’s fiscal year 2008 budget called for an additional $100 million a year for 10 years to be dedicated to bolster basic park operations, Bomar said. Congress has included the first $100 million for operations in the fiscal year 2008 budget that awaits final passage. “The second part of the initiative is the centennial challenge – a funding mechanism to match up to $100 million a year over 10 years of public money with $100 million a year for 10 years in private donations,” Bomar said. “Congress has yet to finish legislation necessary to create the public-private centennial challenge.”

Last updated: February 26, 2015

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