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These items consist primarily of letters by John Vincent Miller (1873-1940), to his sister, Mina Miller Edison. There are also two letters from John to his brother-in-law, Thomas Edison. Other recipients include John's parents, Lewis and Mary Valinda Miller, and his sister, Mary Emily Miller. One letter is addressed jointly to Mina and her sister Grace, who was staying with Mina during her pregnancy in 1898. Most of the letters cover the period January 1898-March 1899, although there are also letters from 1894 and 1923. In addition to the correspondence, there are two biographical sketches: an 1898 article about John and his younger brother, Theodore, from the Akron Times; and a 1947 article about John from the Yale University 1897 Half-Century Record.
The earliest letter, dating from March 1894, was written while John was staying with the Edison family at Glenmont during his spring vacation from Yale. Included are comments about Edison's progress on his mixer and bricker, along with remarks about the loneliness of Mina Edison during her husband's long absences from home. Among the topics covered in the 1898 letters are the decision of William Leslie Edison to drop out of Yale; studies and social activities at Cornell University, where John was pursuing an engineering degree after graduating from Yale in 1897; Mina's three-week trip to Oak Place, the Miller family home in Akron, in March 1898; and John's own visit home during his spring vacation. There are also numerous inquiries about the progress of Edison's mining activities in western New Jersey and comments by John about his plan to work for Edison "either at the mine or laboratory" after completing his studies at Cornell.
Other topics include the outbreak of the Spanish-American War in April 1898; the reaction of John's parents to his plans to enlist in the U.S. Navy; living conditions at Guantanamo Bay, where John was stationed aboard the USS Vulcan during the war; John's efforts to reconcile himself and his family to the death of Theodore on July 8, 1898; and his attempts to bring his brother's body back to the United States, which were initially hampered by the military bureaucracy and a yellow-fever epidemic.
Also included are comments on the birth of Mina's third child, Theodore Miller Edison, along with expressions of gratitude about Mina's decision to name the baby after her deceased brother. In addition, there are remarks about John's return to Cornell in the fall of 1898; a book about Theodore Miller, edited by George E. Vincent, that was published in 1899 as Theodore W. Miller: Rough Rider; an article about Theodore in the Yale Alumni Weekly; the final illness and death of John's sister, Jane Miller Marvin; the health of John's aging uncle and aunt, John and Lucy Hunter, who moved into Oak Place in 1898; a dispute between Lewis Miller and Chautauqua co-founder John Heyl Vincent; and John's reaction to Lewis's death in February 1899.
The last letter, written to Mary Miller Nichols on March 4, 1923, comments on the birth of Madeleine's third son, Peter Edison Sloane, two days earlier and the health problems of Thomas Edison, which delayed his annual trip to Fort Myers, Florida. Also included are remarks about seven-month-old Nancy Millerthe oldest of the two children of John and Florence Nichols, who married in 1921. Courtesy of David E. E. Sloane.