Mary Carson Sues Edison (or, The Dark Side of the Edison Tone Tests)

Mary Carson [Kidd] was one of the most popular Edison recording artists in the pre-war years. She was also active on the Tone Test circuit until 1916, when she suddenly dropped off the Edison list. The reason recently became clear while we were researching the Tone Tests — Edison refused to pay Carson for periods during which the company was unable to obtain Tone Test bookings for her, while refusing to let her work for anyone else, effectively depriving her of a livelihood. Carson sued the company and won; Edison appealed the ruling and lost. The company never again hired Carson, although many of her records remained in the catalog for years.