[This note covers all of the "Correspondence" folders for 1918.]
These folders contain correspondence and other documents relating to Edison's role as president of the Naval Consulting Board (NCB), as well as to his personal research for the U.S. Navy during the final year of World War I. The correspondents include Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels; J. Jarvis Butler and W. Strother Smith of the Navy Dept.; NCB chairman William L. Saunders and secretary Thomas Robins; Andrew M. Hunt of the U.S. Shipping Board's Ship Protection Committee; and members of Edison's staff, including his personal assistant William H. Meadowcroft, chief engineer Miller Reese Hutchison, and experimenters Bruce R. Silver at Jones Point, New York, and Samuel C. Shaffner at Key West, Florida. Other correspondents include Harvey S. Firestone, Peter Cooper Hewitt, and officials of the Black Diamond Powder Co., the Ford Motor Co., and the Italian government.
Many of the documents relate to Edison's stay at the naval base in Key West during February-April 1918. The subjects covered include research arrangements, facilities, staffing, expenses, equipment and supplies, and the use of the USS Sachem. There are also items concerning Edison's plan to trade coal for Cuban sugar, the development of a hydrogen detector by Selden G. Warner, tests of sea anchors for the rapid turning of ships, and work on smoke bombs and incendiary devices. In addition, there are documents regarding the disagreement among Edison and other NCB members, including David W. Brunton, Frank J. Sprague, and Willis R. Whitney, about the site for a Naval Research Laboratory. Other letters deal with the need for antisubmarine research and a visit to the National Research Council's experimental station at New London, Connecticut, the leading site for such work. There are also a few letters discussing Edison's views at the end of the war. Several documents mention the need to reschedule NCB meetings as a result of the outbreak of Spanish influenza. Among the Edison experimenters represented in the documents are William Deans, Charles B. Hanford, John A. Hanley, Newman Henry Holland, Paul D. Payne, and Henry G. Wolfe.
Approximately 30 percent of the documents have been selected. The unselected material includes unsolicited offers, requests, and submissions, most of which received a brief form reply. Other unselected documents include letters of transmittal and acknowledgment, routine interoffice communications, Meadowcroft's personal correspondence; and test reports, technical documents, and other items pertaining to research projects not directly related to Edison. Also not selected are routine administrative correspondence regarding military service of personnel and documents concerning the production of war equipment by Thomas A. Edison, Inc. Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.