These documents consist of letters, telegrams, and postcards from Mina Miller Edison to her youngest son, Theodore, and her daughter-in-law, Ann. Most of the communications are addressed jointly to Theodore and Ann. A few are addressed to Theodore alone, and one of them is enclosed in an envelope marked "personal." Seven of the items date from the period February-March and were written while Mina and Thomas were vacationing in Fort Myers, Florida, with their daughter, Madeleine, and their grandsons, Ted, Jack, and Peter Sloane. The other four items were written from Chautauqua in August and October.
Several of the letters contain remarks about the development of the town of Fort Myers and the management of the Edison estate at Seminole Lodge. Included are comments about the black population of Fort Myers; Edison Park, a fifty-five acre residential development on the east side of McGregor Boulvard across the street from Seminole Lodge; Mina's concern about overdevelopment ("the quaint little town is gone and all is commercialized," she laments on one letter); the impending arrival of the Seaboard Railroad station; and Mina's speculative investments in property. Other topics mentioned in the letters include Mina's favorable opinion of James (Jimmie) Newton, the young developer of Edison Park; her objection to the nude statute at the entrance of Edison Park; her concerns about Frank Stout, who had succeeded Ben and Nellie Tinstman as the manager of the Fort Myers estate; and her problems getting caretakers, cleaners, and other workers.
In addition, there are numerous references to Mina's three grandchildren, whom she calls "dear and great company," and to the children's activities such as sailing, swimming, and shell catching. One letter mentions a trip to LaBelle to see the rubber plants, while others refer to trips or possible trips to Arcadia, Palm Beach, Sanibel, and Winter Haven. Included also are indications of Mina's concern about Theodore's health ("please take care of your physical self as well as mental," she admonishes in one letter), as well as the health of other family members such as daughter Madeleine Sloane, who was suffering from "a bad abscess" on her chin; grandson Ted Sloane, who "has taken cold in some way"; daughter-in-law Blanche Travers Edison, who "is very miserable"; and sister-in-law Florence Miller ("she too seems to be having a hard time"). Mina also writes about a case of smallpox in Fort Myers, thus far "confined to the colored quarter," which was making Thomas Edison "chary about going to the movies""his one source of amusement." The last letter sent from Fort Myers refers to the "new records" marketed by the Edison company, which "are being praised down here greatly."
The two communications sent from Chautauqua in August mention leisure-time activities such as the concerts put on by the New York Symphony Orchestra. "It is getting to be quite a musical center," Mina remarks. "I hope it will get stronger and stronger in that line." A picture of the "bathing beach" at Chautauqua appears on the back of a postcard from August 7. Edison's status as a cultural icon is highlighted in the same postcard as Mina recounts how the children of Chautauqua paid a call on the inventor one Saturday morning. "He was exhausted after it," she writes Theodore, "but they all seemed pleased."
The two communications from October were written while Mina was visiting Chautauqua to attend a trustees' meeting. The first letter mentions a "bad fall" suffered by Thomas Edison at Glenmont and expresses relief that he was not seriously injured. The letter also contains high praise for William Hildebrand, the traffic manager at Thomas A. Edison, Inc., who had arranged for an automobile to meet Mina and her niece Elizabeth Miller at the train station when they arrived at Westfield, about twelve miles away from Chautauqua. The last item is a telegram, with an inscribed date of "10/27/1926," mentioning plans to leave that evening for Chicago, where Mina would be staying at the Deltrado Hotel. Courtesy of the Chautauqua Institution Archives, Oliver Archive Center.