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Mss:692 1894-1897 R136

Raff and Gammon. Raff and Gammon Records, 1894-1897: A Finding Aid

Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University


Harvard Business School, Boston MA 02163.

© President and Fellows of Harvard College

Descriptive Summary

Call No.: Mss:692 1894-1897 R136
Repository: Baker Library Special Collections, Harvard Business School, Harvard University
Creator: Raff and Gammon
Title: Raff and Gammon records
Date(s): 1894-1897
Quantity: 1.5 linear feet (3 boxes, 2 volumes)
Language of materials: English
Abstract: The Raff and Gammon records span the years 1894 to 1897 and represent the early records of the commercial development of the motion picture.

Immediate Source of Acquisition:

Gift of Terry Ramsaye.

Processing Information:

Processed: October 2017 By: Baker Library Special Collections Staff

Conditions Governing Access:

This collection is open for research. Materials stored onsite. Please contact specialcollectionsref@hbs.edu for more information.

Conditions Governing Use:

Volume 2 suffered from extensive water damage and many of the letters are difficult to read.

Preferred Citation:

Raff and Gammon Records. Baker Library Special Collections.

Biographical / Historical

Norman C. Raff and Frank R. Gammon were acting as agents for Thomas A. Edison in the promotion and distribution of both the Kinetoscope and the Vitascope. Norman C. Raff of Canton, Ohio, was a senior member of the firm of Raff & Gammon, which launched the business career of the motion picture in its "peep show" days in 1894 via the Kinetoscope. Machines and film were sold outright by the Kinetoscope Company and short films were exhibited in Kinetoscope parlors. The ability to entertain only one patron at a time led to the rapid decline of the Kinetoscope and spurred innovation of screen projection. The newly named Vitascope Company, started the screen on its world career with Thomas Armat's projection machine. Known as the Vitascope, it was manufactured in Edison's plant using Edison film.

Scope and Contents

The materials in the collection represent the early records of the commercial development of the motion picture from 1894 to 1896. Business was conducted as the Kinetoscope Company and the Vitascope Company. Materials include letterpress copybooks of outgoing correspondence primarily from Norma Raff on topics such as sale of the Kinetoscope, orders for films and machines, shares of stock in the company, negotiation of contracts, selling rights to exhibit the Vitascope in various states across the country (in which they had exclusive control), investments, and the development of the Vitascope. Correspondents include Thomas A. Edison, the Holland Brothers, Erastus A. Benson, Thomas Armat, and Thomas R. Lombard. The collection also contains correspondence files, daily shipping receipts, leases and other documents of the business and several companies and corporations involved, including the International Novelty Company of Council Bluffs, Iowa and the Kinetoscope Company of New York. Also included is a scrapbook of newspaper clippings related to the debut to the Vitascope. Also includes programs outlining the scenes shown on the Vitascope, and an announcement regarding the reduction in price of Kinetoscopes and Kineto-Phones.

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