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Claude Azell Prince Jr. (1913-2005) grew up in Fort Myers, FL, the winter home of Thomas Edison. His father worked as a chemist for Edison. Upon graduating from high school in 1930, the son was hired by Edison as assistant secretary and record keeper, following the inventor between his New Jersey lab and his Florida winter quarters. Though Edison was 80 years old, he remained very active. One of his last projects was an effort to extract rubber from goldenrod plants, a project in which both Princes were closely involved until Edison''s death in October 1931. They continued working on with Edison Laboratories until 1934. C.A. Prince Jr. was the last known surviving employee of Thomas Edison.
The most important part of this archive is a group of correspondence and laboratory notes in Edison''s hand, most of them relating to the goldenrod experiments. Edison would jot down observations or orders, and then give them to young Prince for transcription and filing. These notes include 31 draft Autograph Letters Signed by Edison (signed variously as TAE, Edison, or simply "E"), 6 incomplete letters in Edison's hand, 82 sheets of lab notes in Edison's hand, and at least 6 other sheets annotated by Edison. Most of Edison's letters are addressed either to his brother-in-law John V. Miller in the New Jersey office, or to Walter N. Archer who was supervising the goldenrod plantation. The 15 letters written to Archer are particularly full of scientific detail. Courtesy of Swann Galleries