These documents, which cover the years 1942-1946, consist primarily of letters, telegrams, and postcards from Mina Miller Edison to her son Theodore and daughter-in-law Ann. All but three of the twenty communications were written in 1942 or 1945. Most of Mina's letters are addressed to Theodore and Ann jointly, but some are addressed to Theodore by himself or Ann by herself. Also included are two letters from Theodore to Mina and a note from Ann to Theodore. Most of Mina's letters were written from Seminole Lodge, the family's winter home in Fort Myers, Florida; Chautauqua, New York, where Mina generally spent considerable time during the summers; and Jamestown, New York, where Mina spent several months in a hospital in 1942. Other letters were written from Glenmont, the Edison home in Llewellyn Park; the home of Grace Miller Hitchcock in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Hanover, New Hampshire.
The first letter, written on April 14, 1942 a few days after Mina's arrival in Florida, discusses wartime conditions in Fort Myers, which was host to two large air bases. Included are comments praising the intelligence, enthusiasm, and courage of the soldiers, as well as expressing concern about their lack of recreational opportunities. In addition, there are remarks about a visit by Mina to the airport at Palmetto Field and a plan to invite twenty soldiers to her home that evening "to sing and enjoy the place." Also mentioned in the letter are Mina's sister Grace Miller Hitchcock and Josephine Kirtland Colgate (wife of Llewellyn Park neighbor Russell Colgate), who were staying with Mina at Seminole Lodge, and Grace's ailing brother-in-law, Lucius W. Hitchcock, who passed away on June 18.
The seven communications dating from the summer of 1942 relate primarily to Mina's illness (reportedly from complications arising from a wasp sting at Chautauqua) and her two-month stay at the Woman's Christian Association Hospital in Jamestown. A note from Ann to Theodore relates that family doctor Hubert S. Howe had gone up to Jamestown to take care of Mina and that the doctor had explained Mina's condition to her as an "injury in the heart" rather than a coronary thrombosis. Two brief notes by Mina comment on her condition. She had hoped to lose some weight in the hospital, she writes, but the doctors say she has to eat to gain her strength. "So I must give up hope of being a sylph."
The one item from 1943 is a postcard from Pittsburgh dated October 29, which comments on the condition Grace Miller Hitchcock, who is apparently suffering from depression. Mina characterizes her sister, a widow for almost thirteen years, as needing "in some way to forget herself." She also mentions that her twenty-one-year-old niece Nancy Miller, now parentless after the death of her mother in July, has been temporarily staying with Theodore and Ann while Mina is away from Glenmont.
The first item from 1945 is a typewritten letter from Theodore relating the "sad news" that family friend Whittie Landon had his right foot amputated. (The reference is to nineteen-year-old Sealand Whitney Landon, III, who joined the army in 1943 and lost his leg at the Battle of the Bulge.) A handwritten notation at the top of the letter indicates that it was sent by airmail to Fort Myers, where Mina was attending to "hurricane damage" and the "transfer of Seminole Lodge to [Rollins?] College." A letter from April 1 relates a visit by Mina to the Buckingham Army Airfield, ten miles east of Fort Myers, where she saw the new Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber. She comments on the camaraderie of the airmen and the hospitality of Col. Othel R. Deering, commanding officer at the Buckingham Gunnery School. The last item, dated February 12, 1946, is from Mina to Ann's mother, Anna Landstrom Osterhout, who was living in Winter Haven, Florida. Mina remarks on the condition of Grace, whom she describes as "miserable," and mentions that Grace Waymouth and Lucy Bogue are staying with her and Grace at Seminole Lodge. Enclosed with the letter is a newspaper clipping of Mina crowning the King and Queen at the Fort Myers Pageant of Light "in celebration of Dearie's birthday." Courtesy of the Chautauqua Institution Archives, Oliver Archives Center.