This folder contains correspondence, technical notes, and other documents pertaining to Edison's wartime research on various problems in military technology, as suggested and underwritten by Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy. Included are letters by Adm. George E. Burd on torpedoes; William F. Little of Electrical Testing Laboratories on photometry and ship paint; artist Orlando Rouland, who assisted with some of the experiments; G. H. Stickney of the General Electric Lamp Works regarding brightness values; and yacht owners John A. Serrell and Maximilian Zwickl, who leased Edison their vessels Rampant and Hydraulic. Also included is correspondence with Army and Navy representatives relating to wireless radios, supplies, and arrangements to assist Edison, along with a communication from the Antiaircraft Section of the Army Ordnance Dept. enclosing detailed descriptions of targeting technologies. Other documents pertain to Edison's use of the Casino Building at Eagle Rock Reservation in West Orange as his personal laboratory.
In addition, there are multi page reports on investigations conducted for Edison by researchers on his own staff and by individuals who were "loaned" to him by Columbia University, New York Edison Co., and other cooperating institutions. These include Walter E. Curt of Columbia on torpedo propulsion; Benjamin Liebowitz on sound detection and measurement and airplane range finders; Absalom M. Kennedy on underwater sound detection experiments at Sandy Hook, New Jersey; William H. Knierim of New York Edison on sound selection and amplification and the behavior of sound in sea water; and B. A. Wooten on optical glass cleaning and nozzles. There is also a reference to the work of geophysicist John C. Karcher, a graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania who would subsequently invent and commercialize the reflection seismograph. Other documents refer to the hiring of Samuel C. Shaffner, a personal friend of chief engineer Miller Reese Hutchison, in October and to the termination of Kennedy in December. At the end of the folder are a few undated technical notes and drawings by Edison, Knierim, and John F. Ott, some of which relate to the use of telephone transmitters as sound detectors.
Approximately 50 percent of the documents have been selected. Some of the unselected material is routine correspondence relating to arrangements for carrying out the experimental work, such as equipment and supply orders, payments, and letters of transmittal and acknowledgment. Most of this routine business was handled by Edison's assistant, William H. Meadowcroft, and by Richard W. Kellow of Thomas A. Edison, Personal. Many of these items pertain to leasing and insuring the yachts for research at sea. Also unselected are personal correspondence between Meadowcroft and Kellow; a photocopy of a later typescript about Edison's war work; undated technical notes and drawings (possibly unsolicited submissions to Edison) by unidentified authors; data tables relating to sky brightness; miscellaneous scraps and printed matter; blank and canceled checks; and items that duplicate the information in the selected documents.
Related documents can be found in the Naval Consulting Board and Wartime Research Papers in Part V of the microfilm edition and in the Edison Wartime Research Reports (Charles Hummel Collection) in the digital edition. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.