These letters, many of which are undated or only partially dated, are by Carolyn Hawkins Edison (1883-1963), wife of Charles Edison and daughter-in-law of Mina Miller Edison. Although many sources state that Charles and Carolyn were "college sweethearts," there is no evidence that she ever attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or that she met Charles there. According to Charles's friend and biographer John Venable, the two met in 1912, when Charles visited the office of Dr. Hugh Cabot, a prominent Cambridge physician for whom Carolyn was working as a secretarial assistant. For several years afterwards, Carolyn was one of several female acquaintances to whom Charles felt attracted. They were never formally engaged. During a visit to the Edison winter home in Fort Myers in March 1918, as Charles later recalled, "I thought it was a good time to ask her to be my wife. So one moonlit night, out on the end of the Edison dock, I popped the question." The ceremony took place shortly afterwards, with Mina Edison being the only family member in attendance.
The earliest letter, written shortly after their marriage, comments on Carolyn's eagerness to leave her job at the Harvard Medical Unit in Cambridge and reunite with her husband; there are also remarks about the birth of John Edison Sloane, her sister-in-law Madeleine's second son. A letter from the French Lick Springs Hotel in Indiana, probably written in 1919, notes that the resort, renowned for its sulphur springs, "doesn't seem to draw a very nice class of people. . . . Lots of Jews and a queer mixture." Other letters describe vacations in Nova Scotia (1921) and Arizona (1930) and at Fort Myers, Florida, where Charles indulged his love of fishing. Also included is discussion of Madeleine's medical problems following the birth of her third son Peter in March 1923; Charles's health problems, which resulted in a brief hospitalization in March 1928 and a longer one in February 1930; the health of Thomas and Mina Edison; and the social activities and political opinions of various family members. Several letters refer to Charles Edison's involvement in his father's battery, motion picture, and radio businesses. An undated letter, probably from the late 1920s, comments on Thomas Edison's rubber research.
With one exception, the letters are from Book #20 on the Charles Edison Fund microfilm and from one correspondence book, not on the microfilm, bearing the title "Charles & Carolynn Edison's Letters to Mother & Father." Three additional letters from the late 1920s can be found in Book #19; the two undated letters relating to routine family matters (#4636 and #4638) have not been selected. Click here for a list of all the correspondence books on the Charles Edison Fund microfilm. Click here for a list of boxes containing correspondence not on the microfilm. Courtesy of the Charles Edison Fund.