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These documents, which cover the years 1894, 1913, 1958-1965, and 1971 consist primarily of letters written by Marion Estelle Edison Oeser (1873-1965), daughter of Thomas A. Edison and his first wife, Mary Stilwell Edison. In addition to the correspondence, there are news clippings, photographs, and other material. The earliest document is an undated clipping from the gossip magazine Town Topics that probably was published shortly before Marion returned to Europe in the spring of 1894. The article calls into question the popular image of Mina Edison as a "model stepmother," noting that her eldest step-daughter (Marion) had left her father's house and was now living with her mother's relatives. A note in the hand of Madeleine Edison speculates that "a disgruntled companion or chaperone for Marion was responsible for this" and names Mrs. Elizabeth F. Earl as the probable culprit. Mrs. Earl was Marion's companion and tutor during her first trip to Europe in 1890-1892.
Two letters by Marion date from March 1913. A letter to Mina mentions Madeleine's recent engagement and expresses hope that Mina will warm up to her fiancÚ, John Eyre Sloane, when she gets to know him better. Also included is an extensive discussion of the health of Marion's husband, Karl Oscar Oeser, who was confined in an officer's sanitarium in Wiesbaden after suffering an attack of sciatica. The other letter, which was written to Madeleine while she was touring Italy, discusses plans to get together either in Marion's hometown of Mulhausen or in Paris. Marion also mentions public reaction to her father's refusal to visit Mulhausen in 1911, even though he was only three hours away in Lucerne. Some of the "common people" expressed doubts as to whether she was really Edison's daughter, whereas "society" was inclined to think she was on bad terms with her family. A letter from Marion to Madeleine, August 15, 1964, comments on the death of her longtime chauffeur, Willford, and reminisces about spending Christmas with the Edison family at Glenmont.
The remaining items have not been selected. These include three letters from Marion to Madeleine, 1961-1964, mentioning the death of Carolyn Edison, Marion's desire that her own ashes be buried near her mother in Mt. Pleasant cemetery in Newark, and the blindness that prevented her from traveling to Europe with her friends. Other items include a photo of Marion and other family members taken on her ninetieth birthday; notes by Madeleine about arrangements for Marion's funeral; a draft in Madeleine's hand of Marion's obituary; an obituary from the Newark Evening News; and a letter to Madeleine from Herbert Oeser, nephew of Marion's former husband Oscar Oeser, enclosing a photograph of Herbert, his mother, and Oscar taken around 1912-1913, as well as a photograph of Herbert and Marion, taken during a visit to the United States in 1936. In addition there are several typewritten copies of Marion's memoir, "The Wizard of Menlo Park By His Daughter Marion Edison Oser" (1956), along with an article about Marion, based on her memoirs, that was published in the magazine section of the Lewiston Journal on September 27, 1958. A signed copy of Marion's memoir can be found in the Charles Edison Fund Collection. Courtesy of David E. E. Sloane.