These letters, which cover the years 1886-1889, 1898, 1903, and 1924 are primarily from Robert Anderson Miller (1861-1911) to his younger sister, Mina Miller Edison. One letter by Robert is addressed to his brother Ira. Also included is a letter to Mina from Louise Igoe (1858-1937), written prior to her January 1887 marriage to Robert, along with a 1924 letter from Louise to her three grown children, Rachel, Robert Jr., and Lewis II. The first six letters, dating from the period February 1886-July 1887, contain several comments about Thomas Edison, whom Mina married on February 24, 1886. The letter by Louise, written two weeks before Mina's marriage, characterizes Thomas as "an excellent husband prospective" and mentions the reactions of various friends and relatives to the news of the marriage. The first letter by Robert, written three days after the wedding, relates the impressions of relatives and friends who attended the ceremony. Also mentioned in the letter is a visit by a group of "New York gentlemen" who demonstrated the Edison system of electric lighting to Robert, who operated a Brush Electric Co. street lighting plant in Canton. A letter by Robert from November 1886 expresses regret that he and Louise will not be able to spend their honeymoon at Fort Myers. He also requests Mina to ask her stepdaughter Marion "what she thinks about Louise & me now." (In her memoirs, Marion mentions that Louise had been her first choice for stepmother "more because she was a blonde like my Mother than for any other reason.") Two letters from January 1887 remark about Edison's illness (newspapers reported that he suffered an attack of pleurisy) and express hope that he will feel well enough to attend Robert's and Louise's wedding.
A letter by Robert from May 1889 comments on the first birthday of Madeleine Edison and mentions that his mother Mary Valinda Miller, who attended the birthday celebration in West Orange, was accompanied on the train by "Major McKinley," who had come east to speak at the Decoration Day ceremony in New York. Robert characterizes McKinley, a Canton resident and family friend, as "one of the foremost men of the country" and predicts that "he is liable to be President of the U.S. in 8 years from now." A letter by Robert from July 1889 comments on the birth of his oldest child and namesake, Robert Anderson Miller, Jr. Included in the four letters from 1898 are references to Theodore Miller's enlistment in the Rough Riders, about which Robert had misgivings; the birth of Theodore Miller Edison; a visit paid by Mina to Thomas A. Edison, Jr., who was ill in New York City; and the final illness of Robert's and Mina's sister, Jane Miller Marvin. Also included is a request that Thomas Edison write a "strong letter" recommending Robert's appointment as U.S. Postmaster at San Juan, Puerto Rico. The last document is a typescript of a 1924 letter by Louise Igoe Miller, giving her impressions of Lewis Miller, his home at Oak Place, and his contributions to Chautauqua. The letter also appears in Ellwood Hendrick's Lewis Miller: A Biographical Essay (1925), pages 108-113. Courtesy of the Chautauqua Institution Archives, Oliver Archives Center