This 343-page volume contains the minutes of the Naval Consulting Board (NCB) for the period October 7, 1915-March 22, 1919. It was presented to Secretary of the Navy Charles Edison in 1940 by Thomas Robins, former secretary of NCB, "as a record of part of your Father's [wartime] activities." The NCB was created in July 1915 as the result of discussions between Edison and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, with the advice of Miller Reese Hutchison, Edison's chief engineer and personal representative. The Board's membership, confirmed at its first meeting in October 1915, included two representatives from each of the eleven professional engineering societies, as well as Edison and Hutchison. Although Edison served as chairman of the NCB, his role was largely ceremonial, with the administrative work carried out by Robins and by first vice chairman William L. Saunders.
Prior to the entrance of the United States into World War I, the Board generally met once a month. The first meeting was held at the headquarters of the Navy Department in Washington, D.C., but subsequent meetings were usually held in the Engineering Societies Building in New York City. The meetings occasionally took place in other New York City locations such as the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Edison Diamond Disc Shop on Fifth Avenue, and the India House. The meeting of September 19, 1916, at which the NCB's official authorization by Congress was discussed, took place in Washington. After the United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, the NCB began meeting on a biweekly basis, generally in Washington. Edison attended six of the ten meetings that took place in 1915-1916. Beginning in 1917, however, he devoted almost all of his time to his wartime research projects and attended only the meeting of October 20, 1917. Hutchison continued to attend on a regular basis and occasionally presented the NCB with reports on Edison's research.
Because of Edison's limited participation in NCB activities, the minute book has not been published in its entirely. The minutes of five meetings have been published in full: (1) the organizational meeting of October 7, 1915, at which Daniels addressed the members regarding the mission of the NCB and Edison formally presented his recommendations for a Naval Research Laboratory; (2) the meeting of September 19, 1916, also addressed by Daniels, at which the congressional authorization of the NCB was discussed; (3) the meeting of December 9, 1916, at which a committee report recommending Annapolis as the site for the Naval Research Laboratory was discussed (Edison submitted a minority report recommending Sandy Hook, New Jersey); (4) a special meeting of September 27, 1917, which adopted a report by Hutchison regarding the use of anthracite (smokeless) coal on merchant ships; and (5) the meeting of March 22, 1919, at which the members unanimously adopted a resolution requesting the Secretary of the Navy to relieve them from their official duties. Also included are portions of the minutes from sixteen additional meetings that contain references to Edison, his research, or the Naval Research Laboratory.
Preceding the minutes are three letters by Charles Edison, his private secretary Mary E. Merritt, and Thomas Robins regarding the transfer of the minute book and other NCB records to Edison and the Navy Department; a table of contents for the 1915-1917 meetings; and a four-page list of subjects covered in the meetings, numbered from 1 to 164. Courtesy of the Charles Edison Fund.