These letters from Mina Miller Edison to her son Charles cover the years 1895-1924, but most were written during the period 1908-1913, when Charles was a student at the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, Connecticut (1907-1909) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1909-1912) and working for the Boston Edison Co. (1913). There are also numerous letters written while Charles was visiting the Pacific Coast during the summer and fall of 1913. Topics discussed in the correspondence include periodic visits by Mina to Oak Place, the Miller family home in Akron, Ohio; Thomas Edison's ear operation in February 1908; vacations in Fort Myers, Florida, in 1908, 1909, 1912, and 1919; the suicide of Edison's personal secretary, Johnny Randolph in February 1908; the family's vacation in Europe during the summer of 1911 and the death of Mina's older brother Robert while she was abroad; the marriage of Mary Emily Miller to William Wallace Nichols in June 1912; and the final illness and death of Mina's mother, Mary Valinda Miller, in October 1912.
Also included are comments regarding Mina's relationship with Thomas Edison; her concerns about her husband's absorption in his work, his neglect of his family, and his lack of business sense; her feelings of loneliness, inadequacy, and depression; her attitude toward her stepsons, Thomas Jr. and William; her strong disapproval of daughter Madeleine's romance with John Eyre Sloane; her views on the relationship between Charles and his younger brother, Theodore; her concerns about Charles's smoking and drinking; and her desire that Charles should succeed in school, become his father's "right hand man," and eventually take charge of the Edison companies.
In addition, there are remarks about the numerous social and civic activities of Mina Edison and about her husband's battery, cement, motion picture, and phonograph businesses. Included are comments about the resolution of litigation between Edison and the New York Phonograph Co.; competition with the Victor Talking Machine Co.; the declining sales of Edison cylinder records and the development of disc records; the role of Mina and other family members in choosing songs for the new disc records; the introduction of talking pictures; Mina's strong dislike and distrust of Chief Engineer Miller Reese Hutchison, whom she regarded as a threat to Charles's eventual ascendancy; and her suspicions of Sherwood T. (Sam) Moore, Edison's principal assistant on the disc record project. Two letters written during World War I indicate Mina's dislike of war and her negative attitude toward Germans, including the Mercks, her Llewellyn Park neighbors, and H. H. Meno Kammerhoff, manager of Edison's chemical plants.
The letters are from a correspondence book, not on the Charles Edison Fund microfilm, bearing the title "Mina Edison Letters." Click here for a list of all the correspondence books on the Charles Edison Fund microfilm. Click here for a list of boxes with correspondence not on the microfilm. Courtesy of the Charles Edison Fund.