These documents consist of dated items covering the years 1885-1931 and 1946, along with undated material primarily from 1894-1898. Most of the letters are by Edison and are addressed to his wife, Mina Miller Edison. There is also correspondence by Mina, her children Charles and Madeleine, and non-family members. At the beginning of the folder is a communication from Edison to Lewis Miller asking his daughter's hand in marriage, along with the engraved wedding invitation. There are numerous references to Edison's work schedule and daily activities, including production difficulties and working conditions at the iron ore separation plant in Ogden, New Jersey, along with occasional references to x-rays, lamp filaments, kinetoscopes, and phonographs. There are also comments pertaining to Edison's paternal and spousal roles and to events relating to the Miller family such as the death of Mina's brother, Theodore W. Miller, in July 1898 and the death of her sister, Jane Miller Marvin, in November 1898. Also included is a typewritten copy of Edison's last will and testament, dated February 1, 1926, along with a codicil dated July 30, 1931.
In addition, there are items pertaining to the Paris Universal Exposition of 1889; Mina Edison's activities at Fort Myers, Florida, and the U.S. Naval Station in Key West in 1918; the financial situation of Madeleine Sloane; and Charles Edison's involvement with the radio business. Of particular note are four versions of a December 1929 letter to Edison from Charles Sumner Williams, vice president of Edison Industries and former classmate of Charles Edison at MIT. In three of the versions, including one in the handwriting of Charles Edison, Williams urges the inventor to "trust" and "have confidence" in his son. "If you force him to obey you, he is through. He is in a condition of such despair that I am actually afraid of suicide." The sentence about suicide does not appear in the final version that was written and signed by Williams. Two accompanying notes in the handwriting of Mina Edison indicate that Mina, her son Theodore, and her daughter-in-law Ann Osterhout Edison also saw the letter. It is not known whether the letter was actually sent to Edison.
Two documents were added in October 2015: (1) a letter from Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, April 3, 1915, inviting Edison's daughter Madeleine Edison Sloane to christen the submarine L-8, equipped with an Edison nickel-alkaline battery (after the Edison battery aboard the submarine E-2 exploded in January 1916, the L-8 battery order was canceled); (2) a letter from Mina Edison to daughter Madeleine, March 16, 1946, written from Fort Myers, Florida, in which she comments on her late husband's love for the solitude of Seminole Lodge and his discomfort with the presence of the "outsiders" who frequently visited.
Among the documents not selected is a letter from Adolfo de la Pena Gil to Madeleine Edison Sloane, dated February 27, 1957, enclosing a typewritten copy of his article in "The Theosophist" regarding Thomas Edison's supposed Mexican birth.
Note: The letter from Madeleine Sloane requesting financial assistance from her father is dated April 4, 1923, although it was probably mailed after that date. Photocopies of pages 1 and 5, along with the 2-page response that Edison wrote on the back of Madeleine's letter, can be found in the Swann Galleries, Inc. Collection. Pages 2-4 can be found in the Charles Edison Fund Collection. For the sake of completeness, the full letter has been published in both collections. Courtesy of Swann Galleries