[This note covers the "Correspondence" folders for both January-June and July-December 1916.]
These folders contains correspondence and other documents relating to Edison's role as chairman of the Naval Consulting Board (NCB). Among the correspondents are Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels; Miller Reese Hutchison, Edison's chief engineer and personal representative, who served with him on the NCB; and other Board members, including secretary Thomas Robins, Lawrence Addicks, William L. Emmet, Andrew M. Hunt, Hudson Maxim, Elmer A. Sperry, Frank G. Sprague, and Willis R. Whitney. Other correspondents include U.S. Navy officers George E. Burd, Edward W. Eberle, Samuel McGowan, and Elliot Snow; pioneer submarine inventor Simon Lake; audion inventor Lee De Forest; and electrical engineer Ralph Mershon.
Many of the letters pertain to the planning of the Naval Research Laboratory and the debate over where it should be located. Included are the preliminary report and final report of the NCB Committee on Sites recommending its establishment at Annapolis, along with Edison's dissenting report in favor of Sandy Hook, New Jersey. (These reports were subsequently published in Lloyd N. Scott's official history, Naval Consulting Board of the United States.) Among the technical subjects discussed in the documents are the use of storage batteries in submarines, the Fessenden oscillator, voice tubes, and phonograph equipment for use in a ship warning system. There are also numerous unsolicited letters from the general public with ideas for war-related inventions, along with recommendations of various cities on the East coast as the location for the research laboratory. In addition to the correspondence, there are copies of NCB regulations and minutes of meetings, as well as newspaper clippings about Daniels and Edison.
Approximately 20 percent of the documents have been selected. The unselected items consist primarily of unsolicited inquiries, suggestions, and submissions, along with form letters or routine replies sent by Edison's personal assistant, William H. Meadowcroft. Also unselected are numerous letters of transmittal and acknowledgment exchanged between Meadowcroft and Robins; documents circulated among NCB members dealing with routine administrative matters or topics unrelated to Edison; an essay by Maxim opposing term limits for Board members; and reports on towns near Sandy Hook, New Jersey, compiled for Edison by Marshall Brugman. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.