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This collection, which covers the years 1917-1919, consists primarily of letters exchanged between Edison and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels regarding the inventor's research for the Department of the Navy and Department of War. Many of the typewritten letters are accompanied by drafts in Edison's hand. The research projects are numbered from 1 through 57. Other correspondents include Edison's personal assistant, William H. Meadowcroft; his chief engineer, Miller Reese Hutchison; Daniels's private secretary, Frank G. Smith; Lt. Giorgio Abetti of the Royal Italian Navy; Sir Eric Geddes, First Lord of the British Admiralty; Lt. Warren S. Harris, commanding officer of the USS Sachem; William L. Saunders, vice chairman of the Naval Consulting Board; Capt. Lloyd N. Scott, author of the official history, Naval Consulting Board of the United States (1920); and various officials of the Navy and War Departments, including Secretary of War Newton D. Baker, Rear Adm. W. L. Capps, Brig. Gen. William Crozier, Rear Adm. Ralph Earle, Maj. Gen. Henry Jervey, and Thomas A. Kearney. Edison's letters are occasionally accompanied by notes, drawings, and reports from his experimental staff, including Newman Henry Holland , William H. Knierim, Benajmin Liebowitz, Bruce R. Silver, and Henry G. Wolfe. Enclosed with some of Daniels's letters are critical evaluations of Edison's ideas by the Navy Department's Special Board on Naval Ordnance.
The documents are organized according to the research project to which they pertain. Preceding the numbered projects is a folder containing a list, in the hand of Meadowcroft, of the 57 research projects; another list, probably also prepared by Meadowcroft, of 48 wartime experiments; and a typescript of a memoir by Edison, written in 1919, relating to his wartime research. Also included is an address by Gov. Charles Edison delivered at the Edison Pioneers Luncheon on the ninety-fifth anniversary of Thomas Edison's birth on February 11, 1942, in which he discusses his father's wartime activities, including his chemical plants and military research. Included in the address is a "memorandum written by Thomas A. Edison" regarding his views of war and the need for a strong national defense, followed by a list of 42 wartime experiments.
The names of most of the 57 research projects enumerated below are from the list prepared by Meadowcroft. Names in brackets have been supplied by the editors. Other documents pertaining to these experiments can be found in the Naval Consulting Board and Related Wartime Research Papers (Special Collections Series), Notebook Series, and Edison General File Series.