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These letters consist primarily of correspondence exchanged between Madeleine Edison and her future husband, John Eyre Sloane. There are also letters to and from Mina Miller Edison, as well as a few letters from non-family members such as Edsel Ford and James Cardinal Gibbons. Most of the letters were written during February-April 1914, when the Edison family was vacationing in Florida. The sixty-six letters written by Madeleine during this period provide an almost day-by-day record of the activities of the Edison family and their notable guests, including industrialist Henry Ford, naturalist John Burroughs, and mineralogist George F. Kunz. Included are comments about the romance between Charles Edison and Dr. Kunz's daughter, Bessie, and about the bonding between the Edison children and Edsel Ford, who decided to remain at Fort Myers after his parents' departure. There is a joking reference to Edsel being a possible suitor, which John apparently took the wrong way, prompting Madeleine to retort, "as he is not yet old enough to vote, I hope you will not consider him a serious rival." Among the numerous anecdotes is an account of April Fool's Day pranks in which Charles and family friend Lucy Bogue placed a fake corpse in a ditch at the side of the road and longtime Edison associate Freddie Ott pretended that the boat house was on fire.
The letters contain considerable discussion about religion and about the practicality of a June wedding, coming so soon after the family's return to New Jersey and allowing so little time for preparation. Included are references to Madeleine's misgivings about marrying a Catholic and her refusal to make any promises to John's parents about the religious upbringing of their children. There are also comments about the details of the wedding ceremony (the Edison family wanted the ceremony to be primarily Protestant, with as few Catholic trappings as possible) and about who should preside over it (Madeleine's choice, Cardinal Gibbons, was ultimately vetoed by her father). Madeleine's anxieties about her upcoming marriage, her concerns about her future husband's financial situation, and her uncertainty about whether she was making the right decision in marrying him are persistent themes throughout the letters.
Among the other topics discussed in the correspondence are Madeleine's trip to Washington, D.C. in early January, where she visited with Genevieve Clark, daughter of U.S. House Speaker Champ Clark; the death of her Bryn Mawr classmate Esther Walker on March 5; Edison's reaction to the death of George Westinghouse a week later; the fire that partially destroyed the Bronx motion picture studio on March 28; Edison's disc record business; the honeymoon of John and Madeleine in Long Island Sound; and the outbreak of war in Europe.
In addition, there is considerable discussion of the business of the Sloane Aeroplance Co., including John's efforts to secure contracts from Franklin D. Roosevelt of the Navy Dept. and Lindley M. Garrison of the War Dept.; his negotiations with representatives of pioneer automobile manufacturers Benjamin Briscoe and Russell E. Gardner; his attempts to secure manufacturing rights for the Austro-Daimler aircraft engine; and the movement of the company's factory from Staten Island to Bound Brook, New Jersey. One letter by Madeleine questions the wisdom of competing with the Wright Brothers and challenging their patents and suggests that John should, instead, concentrate on building engines.
Preceding the correspondence is a nine-page list of books bearing the inscription, "List of Madeleine's books."
All but ten of the letters have been selected. The unselected items consist of letters from Charles O. Sloane, John V. Miller, Harold P. Banks, Frank D. Fackenthal, Austin Montgomery, and Clement Negus agreeing to serve in the bridal party, along with letters of congratulations from friends unable to attend the wedding. Courtesy of David E. E. Sloane.