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The little train robbery / Thomas A. Edison, Inc. 1905.

[Detail] The little train robbery / Thomas A. Edison, Inc. 1905

The materials available in Inventing Entertainment provide an opportunity to develop non-fiction and creative writing skills. Magazine articles and biographies can be assessed for a discussion of a writer's goals and technique and then used as an example in composing original articles based on the resources in this collection. Comic sketches from audio recordings of vaudeville performers can serve as the basis for creative writing projects. Other audio and video recordings in the collection can provide a catalyst for projects involving critical assessments of music and film, the development of newscasts, and the study of parody.

Biography and Magazine Writing

The 1910 Nickelodeon article, "Who's Who in the Film Game," uses Thomas Edison's biography to discuss the inventor's influence on the motion picture industry. (This article can be compared to the more comprehensive biography available in the Special Presentation, "The Life of Thomas Edison.")

  • What is the main topic of the article, "Who's Who in the Film Game"?
  • Who do you think is the author's intended audience?
  • Where does the biographical information appear in this article?
  • How does the biographical information relate to the rest of the piece?

Imagine that you are a newspaper reporter in the early twentieth century with an assignment to write an article about Thomas Edison and the music industry (e.g., "Who's Who in the Phonograph Business"). The articles in this collection, "Edison Views the World at Seventy" and "New Aspects of the Art of Music" feature interviews with the inventor regarding the state of the phonograph and popular music. Select a few quotes as the basis for your piece and use the information in the Edison biography and timeline to supply background information about the inventor.