Thomas E. Jeffrey Senior Editor

Brian C. Shipley Theresa M. Collins Linda E. Endersby Editors

David A. Ranzan Indexing Editor

Janette Pardo Richard Mizelle Peter Mikulas Indexers

Paul B. Israel

Director and General Editor


Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey National Park Service, Edison National Historic Site New Jersey Historical Commission

A UPA Collection from

i fjf LexisNexis-

7500 Old Georgetown Road Bcthcsda, MD 20814-6126

v-Edison Company

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey endorsed by

National Historical Publications and Records Commission 18 June 1981

Copyright © 2007 by Rutgers, The State University

hkkcsss issaasssssssssa.-

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

The original documents in this edition are from the archives at the Edison National Historic Site at West Orange, New Jersey.

ISBN 978-0-88692-887-2


Director and General Editor

Paul Israel

Senior Editor Thomas Jeffrey

Associate Editors Louis Carlat Theresa Collins

Assistant Editor

David Hochfelder

Indexing Editor

David Ranzan

Consulting Editor

Linda Endersby

Visiting Editor Amy Flanders

Editorial Assistants

Alexandra Rimer Kelly Enright Eric Barry

Outreach and Development (Edison Across the Curriculum)

Theresa Collins

Business Manager

Rachel Weissenburger


Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey National Park Service

Richard L. McCormick Maryanne Gerbauckas

Ziva Galili Michelle Ortwein

Ann Fabian

Paul Clemens Smithsonian Institution

Harold Wallace

New Jersey Historical Commission Marc Mappen


Robert Friedel, University of Maryland Louis Galambos, Johns Hopkins University Susan Hockey, Oxford University Thomas P. Hughes, University of Pennsylvania Ronald Kline, Cornell University Robert Rosenberg, John Wiley & Sons Marc Rothenberg, Joseph Henry Papers, Smithsonian Institution Philip Scranton, Rutgers University/Hagley Museum Merritt Roe Smith, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


We thankfully acknowledge the vision and support of Rutgers University and the Thomas A. Edison Papers Board of Sponsors.

This edition was made possible by grant funds provided from the New Jersey Historical Commission, National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and The National Endowment for the Humanities. Major underwriting has been provided by the Barkley Fund, through the National Trust for the Humanities, and by The Charles Edison Foundation.

We are grateful for the generous support of the IEEE Foundation, the Hyde & Watson Foundation, the Martinson Family Foundation, and the OE Foundation. We acknowledge gifts from many other individuals, as well as an anonymous donor; the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies; and the Edison Electric Institute. For the assistance of all these organizations and individuals, as well as for the indispensable aid of archivists, librarians, scholars, and collectors, the editors are most grateful.

A Note on the Sources The pages which have been filmed are the best copies available. Every technical effort possible has been made to ensure legibility.


Reel duplication of the whole or of any part of this film is prohibited. In lieu of transcripts, however, enlarged photocopies of selected items contained on these reels may be made in order to facilitate research.

Edison General File Series

The Edison General File (EGF), formerly called the Document File, is primarily a collection of incoming letters addressed to Edison. The letters frequently contain notations by Edison or his secretaries indicating the nature of the reply. Drafts and copies of outgoing letters can also be found in this file, along with numerous interoffice communications and a variety of other documents, such as memoranda, reports, and agreements The subjects covered include the complete range of Edison's businesses and technologies as well as his personal affairs, reminiscences, and opinions on contemporary issues.

Edison's correspondence files were maintained by his personal assistant, William H. Meadowcroft, who screened the incoming mail, decided which items merited Edison’s attention, and directed the remainderfor routine or form replies. Most of the outgoing correspondence bearing Edison s siqnature was drafted by Meadowcroft on the basis of the inventors marginal comments on the original letter. Numerous additional letters were signed by Meadowcroft himself in his capacity as "Assistant to Mr. Edison. More routine letters that were merely signed "Edison Laboratory" may have been composed by Meadowcroft'sown assistants, including Rudolph L. Tulloch and Henrv A. Altengarten. Until 1916, tissue copies of the outgoing letters were bound together in volumes (see the Letterbook Series). However, th|S practice diminished in 1917 and was apparently abandoned altogether by 1919, as carbon copies of the outgoing replies were increasingly filed with the incoming letters in the EGF.

Although Edison remained at the head of his many businesses, a

number of which were brought together under the name of Thomas A. Edison,

Inc. (TAE Inc.) in 1911, oversight of daily operations was delegated to divisional managers. The business correspondence found in the EGF most typically includes internal strategic discussions with senior officials, items sent to Edison for approval, and cases in which he was asked to intervene personally to make special arrangements for a friend, relative, or associate. The Edison company officials represented in the correspondence over the years 1911-1919 include attorney Frank L. Dyer, who served as president of TAE Inc. until 1912; Carl H. Wilson, vice president and general manager; financial executive Stephen B. Mambert; Delos Holden and Henry Lanahan of the Legal Dept.; Harry F. Miller and Richard W. Kellow, who handled Edison's personal business interests; Robert A. Bachman of f the Edison Storage Battery Co.; Walter S. Mallory of the Edison Portland Cement Co.,

William Maxwell of the Phonograph Division; Miller Reese Hutchison, Edison's chief engineer and personal representative for most of this period; and Charles Edison, who was groomed to take overfrom his father toward the end of the decade.

In addition to Edison's personal and business correspondence, the EGF contains a voluminous quantity of unsolicited mail that the inventor received from members of the public on topics such as politics, war, the economy, cigarettes, diet, and religion and spiritualism. Other unsolicited letters consist of requests for advice (and often financial assistance), invitations to join clubs and societies or to give lectures, offers to purchase real estate, and inquiries from those seeking employment. Such items have been selected only where Edison was personally involved in the correspondence. Meadowcroft made extensive use of form letters in responding to these inquiries and requests, and a representative sample of these form-letter replies has been selected.

The documents in the EGF are arranged by year and are subdivided within each year according to broad subject categories. Many of the subjects relate to Edison's technologies and their associated businesses, such as cement, motion pictures, storage batteries, and phonograph. Major themes in the years up to 1915 include corporate reorganization, the introduction of the disc phonograph, and early demonstrations of the kinetophone, or talking motion picture. After the outbreak of World War I, Edison's attention shifted sharply, and there are large quantities of documents pertaining to his rapid production of coal-derived organic chemicals for military and industrial purposes, his role as president of the Naval Consulting Board, and his experiments on submarine detection and other war-related problems for the U.S. Navy.

Other folders contain documents relating to Edison’s ongoing interests, from book and journal orders to mining and minerals. There are also folders with correspondence on legal, financial, and patent matters. Documents pertaining to Edison personally, including his homes, friends, and relatives, can be found in "Edison, T. A.," "Family," "Fort Myers," "Glenmont," "Personal," and "Visitors," as well as in more specific folders such as "Ford, Henry" and "Camping Trip."

Approximately 20 percent of the documents, including all items bearing substantive notations by Edison, have been selected. More specific selection statements can be found in the editorial descriptions preceding each folder.

A Note on the Organization of the EGFand Related Record Groups

The EGF (191 1-1931) is a direct continuation of the Document File that covered the years through 1910. Like the Document File, the EGF is derived from the correspondence records as they were originally maintained by Edison's secretaries. However, there are significant differences in the nomenclature and contents of the folders in the two record groups.

The Document Fite, selections from which appear in Parts l-IV (1850- 1910) of Thomas A. Edison Papers: A Selective Microfilm Edition, was processed by the editors of the Edison Papers according to a set of guidelines for consistent subject classification. Unsolicited correspondence and other unsolicited items outside the mainstream of Edison's business and inventive activities were arranged in a series of "unsolicited" folders. The EGF, by contrast was processed by archivists at the Edison National Historic Site beginning in the 1990s, who followed much more closely the occasionally idiosyncratic subject classification that existed in the records as arranged by previous archivists. As a result, the names and contents of the folders are not entirely consistent from one year to the next, and some folders that contain a low proportion of selected documents in one year may have a substantially greater proportion in other years.

Furthermore, correspondence on a particular topic may sometimes be spread out over more than one folder in a particular year or arranged in different folders from one year to the next. An example of the latter is the correspondence from 191 1-1913 about a law suit arising from Edison's work on automatic telegraphy during the 1 870s. The letters for 1 91 1 and 191 3 are filed in the "Legal— Litigation" folder, while those for 1912 can be found in "Telegraph." Similarly, letters to, from, and about Edison’s friend Henry Ford can be found not only in the folder called "Ford, Henry" but also in the "Personal" folder and, quite frequently, in several other folders as well Documents about the annual camping trips in which Edison, Ford, industrialist Harvey Firestone, and naturalist John Burroughs participated during the middle and late 1910s can be found in a folder called "Camping Trip for 1918, whereas similar items for other years are filed in the Ford and "Personal" folders. General folders such as "Edison, T. A.," "Personal,' and "West Orange Laboratory" contain a variety of miscellaneous documents which can vary considerably from year to year.

Prior to the 1980s considerable quantities of business records, which were not directly related to Edison nor part of the original files maintained by his secretaries, were processed into the EGF. Many of these extraneous items were removed by archivists during the 1980s and 1990s and reorganized into new record groups such as the Edison Portland Cement Company Records, Edison Storage Battery Company Records, and the records of various divisions of TAE Inc. New record groups were also created for the personal papers of company executives such as Frank L. Dyer and Carl H. Wilson, for Edison's second wife Mina Miller Edison (Edison Family Papers), and for the documents relating to Edison’s wartime research and his role as chairman of the Naval Consulting Board.

It should be noted, however, that, along with the routine business documents, there are numerous items authored by Edison or bearing his marginalia in most of the company and divisional record groups, as well as in the Naval Consulting Board Records (Special Collections Series), Harry F. Miller File (Legal Series), and Richard W. Kellow File (Legal Series). Finding aids for these record groups are available from the Edison National Historic Site.

With a few exceptions, the nomenclature used in the EGF archival record group has been retained for the Edison General File Series of the microfilm edition. However, "Edison Portland Cement Company," which appears as a subdivision of "Cement" in the early years of the archival record group and as a main entry in subsequent years, consistently appears in the microfilm edition as a main entry. Three closely related folders— "Mining, "Metals and Minerals," and "Ore Milling"— that are separated by the Motion Pictures" folder in the archival record group have been brought together in the microfilm edition as "Mining— General," "Mining— Metals and Other Minera s, and "Mining— Ore Milling." In addition, subdivisions have been created for the 1911 and 1912 "West Orange Laboratory" folders, which are much larger and more variegated than for subsequent years. For example, the letters and reports that were written to keep Edison informed about laboratory and company operations while he was vacationing in Florida in March-Apnl 1912 appear in the microfilm edition in a separate folder entitled "West Orange Laboratory and Associated Companies— Letters and Reports to Edison.



Edison General File Series 1911

E-1 1 -01 Advertising [not selected]

E-11-02 Advice E-1 1-03 Articles

E-1 1 -04 Autograph and Photograph Requests

E-1 1-05 Automobile

E-1 1-06 Aviation

E-1 1-07 Banking

E-1 1-08 Battery, Storage - General

E-1 1-09 Battery, Storage - Country House Lighting - General E-1 1-10 Battery, Storage - Country House Lighting - Windmill

E-1 1 -1 1 Battery, Storage - Delivery Wagons - General E-1 1-12 Battery, Storage - Delivery Wagons - Endurance Tests

E-1 1-13 Battery, Storage - Delivery Wagons - Horse-Drawn Wagon

Costs ,

E-1 1-14 Battery, Storage - Delivery Wagons - Lansden Company E-1 1-15 Battery, Storage - Edison Storage Battery Company E-1 1 -1 6 Battery, Storage - Electric Vehicles - General

E-1 1 -1 7 Battery, Storage - Electric Vehicles - Anderson Electric Car


E-1 1-18 Battery, Storage - Electric Vehicles - Promotional E-1 1-19 Battery, Storage - Federal Storage Battery Car Company E-1 1 -20 Battery, Storage - Foreign - General

E-1 1 -21 Battery, Storage - Foreign - Bergmann, Sigmund E-1 1-22 Battery, Storage - Railroad E-1 1-23 Battery, Storage - Submarine E-1 1 -24 Birthday Greetings [not selected]

E-1 1-25 Book and Journal Orders

E-1 1-26 Business Propositions [not selected]

E-1 1-27 Cement E-1 1-28 Cement House E-1 1 -29 Charities and Loans E-1 1-30 Chemicals

E-1 1-31 Christmas and New Year Greetings [not selected]

E-11-32 Cigarettes

E-1 1 -33 Clubs and Societies

E-i 1 -34 Copyright [not selected]

E-1 1-35 Deafness

E-1 1-36 Edison, T. A. , . ,,

E-1 1 -37 Edison Crushing Roll Company [not selected]

E-1 1 -38 Edison Star [not selected]

E-1 1-39 Education E-1 1-40 Electric Light

E-1 1-41 Employment

E-1 1-42 Equipment and Supplies [not selected]

E-1 1 -43 European Tour

E-i 1-44 Exhibitions

E-i i-45 Family

E-1 1-46 Fan Mail [not selected]

E-i 1 -47 Financial [not selected]

E-i 1-49 Foreign Language Correspondence (Untranslated) [not selected] E-1 1-50 Fort Myers

E-1 1-51 E-1 1-52 E-1 1-53 E-1 1-54 E-1 1-55 E-1 1-56 E-1 1-57 E-1 1-58

E-1 1-59 E-1 1-60

Glenmont Health and Diet Honors and Awards Insurance Invitations

Lectures [not selected]

Legal - General , , . _ _ nnr1

Legal - Litigation - George Harrington, Josiah C. Reiff, and Thomas A. Edison v. Atlantic and Pacific Telegraph Co.et al. Legal - Litigation - Thomas A. Edison v. Allis-Chalmers Co. et al. Minina - General

E-1 1-61 Mining - Metals and Other Minerals [not selected]

E-1 1 -62 Mining - Ore Milling

E-1 1-63 Motion Pictures

E-1 1 -64 Name Use [not selected]

E-1 1 -65 Patents [not selected]

E-1 1-66 Personal - General

E-1 1 -67 Personal - Johnson, Edward H.

E-1 1-68 Phonograph - General ;

E-1 1-69 Phonograph - Edison Phonograph Works E-1 1 -70 Phonograph - Foreign

E-1 1-71 E-1 1-72

E-1 1-73 E-1 1-74 E-1 1-75 E-1 1-76 E-1 1-77 E-1 1-78 E-1 1-79 E-1 1-80

Phonograph - Laboratory and Technical Employees Phonograph - National Phonograph Company and Thomas A. Edison, Inc.


Polyform [not selected]

Port Huron [not selected]

Radio [not selected]

Real Estate Receipts [not selected]

Religion and Spiritualism Secretary [not selected]

E-1 1-81 E-1 1-82 E-1 1-83 E-1 1-84 E-1 1-85 E-1 1-86 E-1 1-87 E-1 1-88

E-1 1-89

Stock and Bond Offerings [not selected]



Thomas A. Edison, Inc.

Visitors , * , . ,,

Warren County Warehouse Company [not selected]

West Orange Laboratory ^

West Orange Laboratory and Associated Companies - Letters and Reports to Edison . K. . c

West Orange Laboratory and Associated Companies - Notes by Edison

Edison General File Series 1911. Advertising [not selected] (E-11-01)

This folder contains solicitation letters from advertising managers.

Edison General File Series 1911. Advice (E-11-02)

This folder contains unsolicited correspondence requesting Edison's advice on technical matters or seeking his assistance in improving or promoting inventions. A letter of introduction written by financier George W. Perkins is included.

A sample of less than 2 percent of the documents has been selected. The selected items contain Edison's replies in the form of marginalia.

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Ur. Thos A, Edison,


O-rand Rapids Mich:



JcU, a {L^u 5-«r

Jany 13th 1911. . , .

^JW, w f -f

/ K

orty in addressing you, and c

H. J.

My dear Sir:- _ _

X fool an^^K ^iS^o S£SL

i hardly tell ^ylly

X invented and secured letters patent o^t^ejimu^Uo^.pn^-gqa h ^

Cor conveying; mixing and moulding ooncrote^^ottor^iM^^^teria^.

I have learned that other parties in 1

this process and claiming they have been aA

have delayed the issueing of the patents pending application for. 'for¬ eign patents. I have therefore not heou able to secure a copy of

their claims. I have no donut you have heard of this process

and must realize the magnitude of its scope.

X am not the typical poor inventor and still I am young and new at the patent game. X know on the contrary, that you have

had experience and to tell you the truth; That you are not so in need of money that tho advice you would give me v/ould he all for your own interest. This Idea may not ho as valuable as I think it

to he. I am coming to New York ; and if you arc to ho at home

next week and it would not he too much to ask of you; I would gladly go to your city from there; And would esteem it a groat favor if you give me a few minutes of your time for a conversation on the subject.

If I am asking too much; you have simply to ignore this let- tor> X wish to leave here Sunday night; which will got me to

Washington # Monday morning. I will procure frpm our Congressman

V/m. Alden Smith; a letter of recommendation; and proceed either from there to Orange or New York. Should you entertain my sug¬

gestion favorably; will you wire me here at my expense, the date most convenient for you to see mo.

l/l3 11.

" Orand ^aplcls, Michigan.

■,I am. informed, when-. the- effort lis made-tortransmit .electric power, from water-afalls :it is -found.-that-tohen -the-.current.vis stepped up to a certain voltagb';the .air refuses -to become -longer.: an::insulator-,and'the .electricity tesoapes iin -the :air.

:I; believe - you-..are::the:6flly ! man -.in: the .world who can discover an insulator .which will prevent :the Joss; ofVthe. current. .It' may- be 300. years, before, another .with yourknowl- iedge.is born .into. this, world, be have enough power, going, to. waste: to .run. every train, cook. every meal ;8nd .run every -factory-, if only- a.-.way is; found:- to transport, the current without , much loss for. any distance; -.An. estimate is made- that- 9. 000;000. of.horse. power -is going.- to waste, in our. Western Mountains alone.

Si: believe .if: you-.will you .can stop this waste j and . therebyt confer . upon : makkind-iits

greatest benefit .

Hoping-, that ,Imay -be; pardoned the boldness: of -.addressing: your thus unsolicitedvmay.T .ask to. .remain,

Yours: Very : Respctfully ,

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January 23, 1911


' Thomas A. Edison, Esq., Hev/allyn Park, Orange, IT.

1 have been interested for spme time in the question of the dissemination of odors , particularly from sewage disposal plants, and some time ago, as ray memory serves me, I got the impression that you had studied this question on general lines and designed some sort of

apparatus of an electrical nature for recording the intensity of odors, etc. X should he very grateful if you would he good enough to indicate to me where I could learn as to the results of your studies of this general


Very respectfully.

'lM<yVMW.i; ^ f _ t r

£i8ui tf>7£^^j-"'|




High Water Mark


Dear Hr. Eiison:

V/e are having any amount electricity, and I writ way by Whioh v/e

Circulation 3,000 ,t

** N^- Jan. 34,


J"1' J£- &,-~r-i&i ifCc-vft-CsP’V'’*

prpvont ^

somehow, so that the shoot s^eTO&S^^Sfir chai|;sd;and will not run through the folder. They

you get quite a little shochfc £fatt|pt f

Can you kindly suggest b?*8& we can draw off the

electricity, so that we can run the sheets through t^^lderlt onc_e^ As things are now;they come off the big press Charged with frictional electricity ,and stiok together like &uJso that we cannot get them through the folder. The result is 4at me miss the mails, and destroy any amount of paper.

You will r«*i*nber that I have written frequently about your inventions in the papers of the United States, and 1 wo, ad apprec-

i sars-rsAS «*>«• sa s. t:“;r rrs

Of your time one of these, days. I want to ask you about one o. two things, if convenient to you.

With kind regards, I am

Very truly yours.



Zhe flftoove JUtet Company

MtonOwn«»»«i6en lane JBull&Ino

Boar Sir:-

Your valued favor of tho 25th inst. received during the ah s once of the v/ritor, which will account for the dolay in acloiow-

lodging its receipt.

Y/e should he very pleased indood to avail ourselves of your suggestion to have Mr. Clancy go over to your laboratory and explain his process nsoro fully to you just as soon as ho returns from the float, which will probably he in the course of the next- ten days or fortnight, which we trust will ho quite satisfactory

to you.

ffe aro sure that Mr. Clancy would wish to personally avail himself of tho opportunity of explaining the process, and thoreforo wo mate the above suggestion rather than sending someone else to do so.

Sincerely thanking you for your intorost, and trusting that the arrangement that we have suggested will ho quite agrooahlo

Mr. Ihomaa A. Edison.

-2- 1-28-11.

to you.


vie beg to remain

Vo?7 tn


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Dallas, Texas m./4/i9il, 6

I,ir. Thomas A. Edison,

West Orange , H.J. fB o'"

Dear sir:- \ j//\

I suppose yon are hoseiged with questions of the 6Maric^r£^

I am going to ask you, hut X no of no source of informat^q/4h^^y> ^ I consider as dependable as yourself. _ ^ / '

I want to know if it he posihle to transmit over ttfc sajad wire as many as one thousand electric currents, or to cau^f th pj electric impulses to select its index, so to speck at end of the wire? J (V j

The strength of the currents may he very small, hut capob^ jy of being usod os directors of stronger currents. ^

To make myself clearer, when I send the impulse #900 I want it to select #900 at the other end.

If this can he done I can look at you while talking to you over tho telephone.


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Herbert F. Rawll

used, in some Hotels which throws a red light in your room reading "Hail in office for you". Did the appli¬ cation of a similar instrument to telephones ever occur to you whereby you might return to your apartment and see a red sign over. your 'phone "Call 181 John"1? In New York City I understand at least one half of the telephones used are often left unattended.

Imagine the convenience of annattachment of this kind which would automatically advise you upon your return that a certain party had called you.

The telephone company I should think, by a series of push buttons at central, could work this out from the exchange, and of course they would charge so much for attaching this instrument, or loan it and charge subscribers so much for each message flashed.

Awaiting your comment, I am,


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Dear sjAJL^m not quitu ljjAdy-^To f tho valuable /VhUiogfaph lo 'W 1 i

rill you kindly/ fWiL-ffl? in this requist'Ji^.^P11

will you kindly/ in this requist'jvt^J direct and mall this letteir to mr^&SSON J

Mr EDI0N SIR will youhLve aft )f ?CuNqlerks v, if there is a tol. phone- sully 1&at wiiAv ffljjf.ah^e tl from a receiver and if a holme wn te avOgOftqd,''^o be a help in oareing- a voice £r<hq the

through a Kail hope ing i am not rhposein/ upcW -kindness a glance at the other aid' ofsthis £\ will explane my want to you i judge ' thanking you in advance for: the ' favor i remain

! yours respectfully

1014, w, 5 ,st J,W, COFFEY Ft Scott kah

-kindness a glance at


Mr. Thomas A. Edison,

Orange, Hew Jersey.

Dear Sir.- FEB Op v ^ k

Have received yours of the 20th instant, staVfj.

ing that the device described by me is out of your line and therefore of no interest to you.

I beg to say that if you will accord mo the privilege of a personal visit, I am confident of being able to interest you in the theory on which it is based.

A direct and what I believe to be an entirely new appli¬ cation of electricity is employed in the separation of mixed gases, i. a. gases not chemically combined.

X do not desire to be obtrusive in my persist¬ ency but X do believe that the possibilities and scien¬ tific value of such a device are so groat as to warrant a ten minute consideration by you.

I t^anlc you for ynur attention to my letter of the 17th instant.

Yours very truG



^be flfeoote filter Company



February 28, 1911.

(A .

15sq.. , \

HP J~ ,

Thomas A. Edison,

Orango, E. J.

Dear Sir:-

Suppler.enting onr respects of the 28th ult., wo hog to advise that Mr. Clancy has returned from tho West, and that he would ho ploascd if yon will suggest a time suiting your convenience for the interviow that you suggested in your favor above reforred to.



Cast Iron Water and Gas Pipe

!T/ie Oregon S/ron an d Steel Co.

339 Sherlock SSulldlng

Portland, 6regon, March 2. 0911

Mr. Thos. A. Edison,

Orange, K.J. 'd * ,