These five letters, which cover the years 1884-1923, relate primarily to Edison's financial partner Henry Villard and his family. The correspondents include Edison's wife Mina Miller Edison, Villard's wife Fanny Garrison Villard, the pioneering historian of science George Sarton, and New York University engineering professor P. B. McDonald. In addition to family matters, the letters deal with Edison's experiments on alkaline batteries, his response to criticism by Columbia University physicist Michael I. Pupin, and the deposit of the first incandescent lamp and the first phonograph in the Kensington Museum in London.
The documents appear in the following order: (1) Samuel Insull to Henry Villard, 8/14/1879, shelf mark bMS Am 1322 (242); (2) Thomas Edison to Henry Villard, 6/11/1890, shelf mark bMS Am 1322 (103); (3) Mina Edison to Helen Frances Villard, 3/19/1907, shelf mark bMS Am 1906 (415); (4) Thomas Edison to George A. L. Sarton, 5/18/1920, shelf mark bMS Am 1803.7; (5) Thomas Edison to Philip B. McDonald, 11/19/1923, Shelf mark bMS Am 1631 (121).
An extensive set of Villard's papers, including numerous letterbooks, can be found at the Baker Library, Harvard University. Because of technical difficulties involved in copying the letterbooks and the prohibitive cost of reproduction, selections from these papers cannot be published at this time. By permission of the Houghton Library, Harvard University.