This folder contains correspondence and other documents concerning Edison's life story, his response to erroneous newspaper reports about him, his opinions regarding a variety of subjects, and numerous other matters. Among the items for 1919 are letters from Edison to Memphis journalist Clyde Grissam regarding his work as a telegraph operator in that city during the 1860s and to Fort Worth attorney George F. Lipscomb regarding the phonomotor, an 1878 invention designed to turn sound vibrations into rotary motion. Also included is correspondence with former wartime experimenters Absalom M. Kennedy of Air Nitrates Corp., Samuel C. Shaffner (now living in Chicago), and Edwin Smith, Jr., of the American Expeditionary Forces. In addition, there are numerous letters regarding the plight of longtime Edison associate Francis Jehl, who found himself stranded in Budapest at the end of the war, including a lengthy description by Jehl of the life in postwar Hungary during the "Bolshevik Terror." A letter to Maj. George Herbert Scott of the Royal Air Force congratulates the British aviator upon the completion of the first East-West transatlantic flight.
Other correspondents include Paul G. Agnew of the U.S. Bureau of Standards; stereograph salesman F. M. Carpenter of Underwood & Underwood; cigar maker Jose Perez del Castillo; anti-vivisectionist Lulu MacClure Clarke (whom Edison dismissed as a "crank"); State University of New York President John H. Finley; Dr. Simon Flexner of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research; physicist Percy Hodge of the Stevens Institute of Technology; New York Edison Co. executive John W. Lieb; William F. Little of the Electrical Testing Laboratories; De Long Rice, superintendent of Shiloh National Military Park; Cleveland businessman William Ganson Rose; and Edith C. Strauss of the U.S. Justice Dept.
Less than 20 percent of the documents have been selected. The unselected items include unsolicited letters from the general public marked no answer or bearing routine marginalia by Edison indicating that he did not know the author or had no comment to make on the subject. Also unselected are letters not pertaining to Edison; requests and offers receiving routine replies; printed booklets and reports sent to Edison; and "squirrel" letters disregarded by Edison's secretaries because the writer was believed to be suffering from delusions.
Courtesy of Thomas Edison National Historical Park.