These documents, which cover the years 1883-1940, consist primarily of correspondence from John Vincent Miller (1873-1940) to his older sister, Mina Miller Edison. Other recipients include John's siblings, Theodore and Grace Miller, and his mother, Mary Valinda Miller. There is also one letter by Florence Nichols Miller, whom John married in March 1921. Many of the letters are undated or only partially dated.
Included are several letters from 1894-1896, written while John and Theodore were attending Yale together. In a letter from April 1898, written at the outbreak of the Spanish-American War, John urges Theodore not to join the Army. Ten letters from 1900 discuss John's experiences working for Thomas Edison at the Ortiz Mine in Dolores, New Mexicoa dry placer mill near Santa Fe, where he and two associates, Samuel G. Burn and Cloyd Chapman, were searching for a method for separating gold from base rock. Included is a letter from July 2, 1900, in which John reminiscences about the death of Theodore in Siboney, Cuba, two years earlier. A letter from September 24, 1900, suggests a failed romance between John and Louisa (Lura) Chess, the daughter of a Louisville, Kentucky, businessman.
Most of the remaining letters are from 1908-1919. Some pertain to the physical and mental condition of John's sister, Mary Emily, who suffered a nervous breakdown in 1909. Included are references to Mary's trip to Bermuda in 1910 with her niece Madeleine Edison and her visit to Monhegan Island, Maine, in 1911 where she was under the care of Gertrude Seaton, a nurse she had met at the Battle Creek Sanitarium. Other family-related topics mentioned in the letters include the engagement of Thomas Edison's first cousin, Edith Clarissa Edison, to widower Frank A. Potter in March 1910; the engagement and surprise marriage of Charles Edison and Carolyn Hawkins in March 1918; and John's romantic interest in Elizabeth Rossen, stepdaughter of John Rossen of the United States Shipping Co.
In addition, there are numerous references to the Edison Chemical Works at Silver Lake ("the Lake"), where John served as division manager until 1920, as well as discussion of ongoing renovations at Glenmont, which John superintended while the Edisons were away at Fort Myers, and John's role in the management of the Edison family's finances during their absence. Several letters from 1911 indicate that Mina's mother and her sister Grace stayed for a time at Glenmont while the Edison family was vacationing in Europe. The letters reveal John's active involvement in the affairs of the Orange Methodist Episcopal Church, including his role in the selection of a new minister in 1916 and his participation in the church choir. A letter from April 11, 1919, mentions how a nationwide railroad strike, which began earlier that month, had prevented John from visiting his sister Mary in Scarsdale. In the same letter, John predicts "a show down between union labor & capital" and mentions attending a lecture about labor relations by Sherman Rogers, a former lumberjack who was industrial correspondent for Outlook magazine.
The last seven letters cover the years 1922-1924 and 1935. Included are references to John's daughter Nancy, born in 1922, and his nephew Peter Edison Sloane, born in 1923; his interest in purchasing the home of Edith Edison Potter after her husband's death in 1921; a visit to Glenmont by chemist Ellwood Hendrick in connection with his research on family patriarch Lewis Miller; and Madeleine and John Sloane's participation in the Drama Guild of the Oranges. There are also comments about the precarious financial condition of the City View Storage and Apartment Co., which was leasing the Miller family home in Akron, and about John's involvement in the management Edison Botanical Research Corp., which continued its research for several years after Edison's death.
In addition to the correspondence, there is also a printed obituary of John V. Miller from an unidentified source
Additional correspondence by John V. Miller relating to the death of his brother Theodore, who was fatally wounded during the Battle of San Juan Hill in June 1898, can be found in Miller, Theodore W. -- Death and Funeral.
A few representative samples of The Jumbo, a periodical published by John and Theodore Miller in 1887-1888, can be found here Courtesy of the Chautauqua Institution Archives, Oliver Archive Center