Compilation © 2007 LexisNexis Academic & Library Soli a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All nghts reserved.


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Paul B. Israel Director and General Editor


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Thomas A. Edison Papers at

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey endorsed by

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Copyright © 2007 by Rutgers, The State University

All riahts reserved. No part of this publication including any portion of the guide and index or of the microfilm may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means— graphic, electronic, mechanical, or chemical, including photocopying, recording o* taping, or information storage and retrieval systems— without written permission of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

The original documents in this edition i Historic Site at West Orange, New Jersey.

ic from the archives at the Edison National

ISBN 978-0-88692-887-2


Director and General Editor Paul Israel

Senior Editor Thomas Jeffrey

Associate Editors Louis Carlat Theresa Collins

Assistant Editor David Hochfelder

Indexing Editor David Ranzan

Consulting Editor Linda Endcrsby

Visiting Editor Amy Flanders

Editorial Assistants Alexandra Rimer Kelly Enright Eric Barry

Outreach and Development (Edison Across the Curriculum)

Theresa Collins

Business Manager Rachel Wcissenburger


Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey Richard L. McCormick Ziva Galili Ann Fabian Paul Clemens

New Jersey Historical Commission Marc Mappen

National Park Service

Maryanne Gerbauckas Michelle Ortwcin

Smithsonian Institution Harold Wallace


Robert Friedel, University of Maryland Louis Galambos, Johns Hopkins University Susan Hockey, Oxford University Thomas P. Hughes, University of Pennsylvania Ronald Kline, Cornell University Robert Rosenberg, John Wiley & Sons Marc Rothenberg, Joseph Henry Papers, Smithsonian Institution Philip Scranton, Rutgers University/Hagley Museum Merritt Roe Smith, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


Wc thankfully acknowledge the vision and support of Rutgers University and the Thomas A. Edison Papers Board of Sponsors.

This edition was made possible by grant funds provided from the New Jersey Historical Commission, National Historical Publications and Records Commission, and The National Endowment for the Humanities. Major underwriting has been provided by the Barkley Fund, through the National Trust for the Humanities, and by The Charles Edison Foundation.

Wc are grateful for the generous support of the IEEE Foundation, the Hyde & Watson Foundation, the Martinson Family Foundation, and the GE Foundation. We acknowledge gifts from many other individuals, as well as an anonymous donor; the Association of Edison Illuminating Companies; and the Edison Electric Institute. For the assistance of all these organizations and individuals, as well as for the indispensable aid of archivists, librarians, scholars, and collectors, the editors are most grateful.

A Note on the Sources The pages which have been filmed are the best copies available. Every technical effort possible has been made to ensure legibility.


Reel duplication of the whole or of any part of this film is prohibited. In lieu of transcripts, however, enlarged photocopies of selected items contained on these reels may be made in order to facilitate research.


Naval Consulting Board and Related Wartime Research Papers Correspondence (1918)

These folders contain correspondence and other documents relating to Edison's role as president of the Naval Consulting Board (NCB), as well as to his personal research for the U.S. Navy during the final year of World War . The correspondents include Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, J. Jarvis Butler and W. Strother Smith of the Navy Dept.; NCB chairman Wil iam L Saunders and secretary Thomas Robins; Andrew M. Hunt of the U.S. Shipping Board's Ship Protection Committee; and members of Edison s staff including his personal assistant William H. Meadowcroft, chief engineer M Her Reese Hutchison, and experimenters Bruce R. Silver at Jones P°int. New York, and Samuel C. Shaffner at Key West, Florida. Other correspondents include Harvey S. Firestone, Peter Cooper Hewitt, and officials of the Black Diamond Powder Co., the Ford Motor Co., and the Italian government.

Many of the documents relate to Edison's stay at the naval base in Key West during February-April 1918. The subjects covered include research arrangements, facilities, staffing, expenses, equipment and supplies, and the . use of the USS Sachem. There are also items concerning Edison s plan to trade coal for Cuban sugar, the development of a hydrogen detector by Selden G. Warner, tests of sea anchors for the rapid turning of ships, and work on smoke bombs and incendiary devices In addition, there are documents regarding the disagreement among Edison and oth® NCB members, including David W. Brunton, Frank J. Sprague, and WiM's R. Whitney, about the site for a Naval Research Laboratory. Other 'ettersdeal with the need for antisubmarine research and a visit to the National Research Council's experimental station at New London, Connecticut, the leading site for such work. There are also a few letters discussing Edison s views at the end of the war. Several documents mention the need to 'reschedule NCB meetings as a result of the outbreak of Spanish influenza. Among the Edison experimenters represented in the documents are William Deans, Charles B. Hanford, John A. Hanley, Newman H. Holland, Paul D. Payne, and Henry G. Wolfe.

Approximately 30 percent of the documents have been seiected. The unselected material includes unsolicited offers, requests and submissions most of which received a brief form reply . Other unselected documents include letters of transmittal and acknowledgment, routine interoffice

communications, Meadowcroft's personal correspondence; and test reports, technical documents, and other items pertaining to research projects not directly related to Edison. Also not selected are routine administrative correspondence regarding military service of personnel and documents concerning the production of war equipment by Thomas A. Edison, Inc.

Naval Consulting Board and Related Wartime Research Papers Correspondence January 1918

January £,1918.

t.ir. Bruce B. Silver,

U. 3. S.' Sacham, 3. JP. 19£, Atmapolio , a.

Dear Ur. silver:

I am in receipt of your favor of the 31et ultimo, enclosine: copies of your correspondence with Ur. G. A. Kichtor of the Bureau of nines Jirpori- mont Station, in regard to Oleum.

Inasmuch as your druiaof Oleum has not yet arrived, we cannot lot either Ur. Richter or Ur. Clark have any. You certainly cannot spare any out of the small stock which you hnvo at present. ^s the Boat is going away so soon, tho problem will be solved, as you cannot lot them have the Oleum if . you aro not there.

I have callod up tho Gonoral Chemical Co. again this afternnon to ask thorn if they had any returns from the telegraph tracer. Shoysay they havo. not. . but will push it all it is possible. Railroad affairs aro in a chaotic otuto at nrocont, and it is practically impossible to got any action on tracors. . She Conoral Chemical Co. told mo that tho Southorn Railway Company hiiB closed most oiV i*ts oi'ficos Gnd will not uckc uri^ action vrhatevor on tracers. .This obtains also in many other Railway Companion.

Ur. Edison wont back to Washington this after¬ noon, and boforc going ho asked mo to euy to you that you ought to huvo a supply of tho "boat fuse ropo". nave you got -plonty of it? If not, pleaBO telograph mo to¬ morrow whore and how much to ordor, and givo description. At tho samo time, ploaso cuyyhon you oxpoct to got away from Annapolis.

YourB very truly.

ABBio-tant to Ur. Edison.


ill' . 3. C. 3haf filer,

U. 3. 3. Sachem, S. P. 193,

Annapolis , Lid .

Hy dear I.lr. 3haf fner :

Ur. Edison has taken ike Congressional limited this afternoon. Before he left he ashed me to write and say to yon that you ought to have several extra Bell 'phones. lie requested mo to ask whether you had a half-do son. extra ones. If not, please let me know by wire tomorrow and I Will order them. Please give me the number or other trade-name so that I can get the right ones.

The hailway situation has grown to be very bad, indeed, and it may effect your receiving materials for a while. One of the Express Companies has just notified us that they requested their Drives s not to pick up any¬ more Express matter until further notice. 2ki6 will be undoubtedly followed by others.

1 received your note this morning on my desk, and will attend to the matters noted. I am afraid that I have appeared awfully stupid to you in repaid to the ear tubes, but the boys have used so many different kinds of things I was not sure and wanton to bo certain about thorn.

lours very truly,

January 3,19X0.

Mr. 3. Kaganuma, c/o Mitsubishi Goshi Xaisha, 13 u Broadway, lion York, II. Y.

lour Sir:-

1 am roquostod by Dr. Suyehiro, to write to you in regard to'tho Hydrogon Do toe tor which wo arc mak¬ ing for your Company. I am sorry that I cannot at this moment givo exact information ns to whon it will bo finished , but I will try to. write you more accurately -about it in tho early part of next week. Tho work is being hurried along as fast as possible. hiko all othor manufacturers in this vicinity, wo arc absolutely crippled for. lock of coal, and havo not enough to koop . our buildings warm. therefore, thero will be a little delay in the work, and wo aro hoping" to comploto the device within tho next two wholes if we can got somo coal.

Yours very truly.

Assistant to Mr. iidison.




January 3, 1917

Mr. Thomas A. Edison,

Washington, D.C.

Dear Mr. Edison:

The following is quoted from Secretary Daniels' report for 1917 > ps-68 71*

"With war conditions increasing the need for labor and building materials, it was believed to be a wise policy to defer for a time the building of the new experimental and research labora¬ tory. Such experiments as have been warranted have been made in private laboratories generously offered and at the Bureau of Standards. The need for this establishment, however, is more clearly shown than ever, and its support is urgently advised."

If the support of such a laboratory is urgently advised, we certainly cannot do better than lend some aid. While the bureaus of the Government are doing some of the work of the Navy, there is much of it left undone and much of it is being done by private capital. It is highly probable that, if a site is not chosen before the war is over. Congress will feel itself justified in not permitting new expense at a time when the Government indebtedness will be the greatest in its history.

If we decide on a site, it can certainly be purchased, even tho some of the buildings could not be economically ereoted at present.

There has been started at New London a plant whioh is already much nearer to being a Navy research laboratory than we have yet created, and it has grown and is growing like Topsy. . That is probably not the best place for a laboratory, and, so far as we know, no plans have been developed for carrying out at New London much of the v/ork which a Navy laboratory ought to do.

The experience there shows, however, how easily a thing of that kind cam grow under war conditions;. In spite of the cold weather and the ice in the river, they are drawing submarine chasers up on the shore at this plant and installing thru the bottom and on the sides, various experimental devices. This work could be done with much greater efficiency in warmer climates. We think it is safe to say that there will be involved several hundred boats, witha great many experiments apiece, before this class of work is complete, if it ever is, and this is only a very small part of the experimental work we ought to be doing. We ought to have a place where we could install a complete boiler system in an imitation boat hull on land, with powdered coal -making plant, for fuel tests.

It is

I.A.E. - 3

not fair to ask tho Shipping Board to install a new out¬ fit which has not been given adequate test on a boat.

Vie could simulate a boat's body, test such a device, and show the results a3 easily as by laying up a suitable vessel.

This powdered coal suggestion is only one of a number of the same kind of experiments - experiments entirely unsuited for the Bureau of Standards or even the Bureau of Mines to carry out. Take, for example, storage battery testing in general. The scarcity of submarines makes it almost imperative to build an imi¬ tation submarine on shore and oarry out the operations of the battery in a space with the dimensions and nature of the submarine, and to build there the suggested exper¬ imental devices for removal of gases or practical test of batteries.

In studying the driving engine for chasers and submarines, we have unearthed two new oil engines which ought to be built at once and tested under the requirements of chasers and submarines. One of these was designed by Commander Fisher, of the Navy. Facilities for this work must now be sought in the industrial plants of the country, tho this type of work, limited in application to the Navy's needs, should be carried out in its own shops. A simple low pressure engine, using the standard boiler tfftel;.bil, has

shown members of the Board the apparent possibility of an engine with practical Diesel engine efficiency, but with much greater simplicity, and we are at a loss at present to know how to recommend the suitable making and testing of a complete engine.

In cases like the laboratory site, it is often true that any; one of a number is better than no choice.

A factory fitted solely for producing submarines, capable of turning one out in a few weeks and located anywhere in the United States, would be a todm better laboratory propo¬ sition than anything we have produced as a Naval Board, and for that reason, among others, we have been anxious to express preference for any site with unanimity.

The fact that the severity of the winter climate is greatly crippling the work at Nahant and New London and has forced us to send some men south for experimental work, makes it seem as the the suggested site on the Potomac River possesses a number of practical advantages. As the entire Board would be willing to agree on recommending this site, if you will do so, we were requested to ask you if you would consider it.

Yours very truly,

January b, 1910.

Doar Ur. Shaf frier: '

I was notified ovor the telophono this' morning that tho Volt Ammo ter was repaired and roaav for delivery, to i have Bont a man ovor for it. _

Yesterday 1 sent you by Parcel font two of tho oar tubes, ouch as were shown in your sketch sent to mo a fev. days ugo . X trust these will bo received in good condition.

/Please do not think that I overlooked your request for \30mc laboratory lottorhoads and onvolopos. X rogrot to disappoint you about this, but it is a vory stringent rule laid down by i-r. Edison that our .labor- tooy -lottorhoads and cnvolopee shall not bo used oxcopt right at tho laborator; , and ho never allov.s us to givo any of them out. Even v.hon I was down with him in Washing

ton, I did not carry any laboratory letterheads. If it was do- - oil-able to write an official lot.or, I drafted it and sont it up here to the laboratory to be typewritten on our letterheads and forwarded to me for lir. Edison or.no for signature in most cases.

If at any timo there is a special reason why it would b'o bettor to write any particular letter on the laboratory letterhead, you can draft it up and sond it hore. and I will have it typowritton for you. i .

1 have roeeivod a tologram from lir. Silver stotinc that you ere .fror.on in ana will go out at tho first opportunity, it i 3 (pile important for no to have an approximate .idea, if pocsiblo, when you will got out, because I am collecting u'loVof supplies which Ur. Edison has specially ordored . . Sheco will all bo

ready to ship by Express on Uondsy noxt, tho 7th instant. If it v:131 bo two or tliroo days beforo you will be able to get out, pleaso telegraph mo first thing Holiday, and 1 will make special arrangements with tho Express Col to put them right through so as to catch yb'u in Annapolis. If thorn is a reasonable prospoct that you will go away bofore Wednesday night, please lot rao know, as I would then ship all tho things to iloy West.-

With kindest fcgards_to you all, I remain.

Yours vory -truly.


Assistant to Hr. -Edison.

'fho Fulton Company, Knoxville, Tonn.

^January Gtl]

yS- mo.

Attontlon of Ur. C. H. Uyndoroo, Sale a Manager*

I find that we have etill another possible uoo for

ffs sssrr ’sjrz&zsss i- _

I wiah you would oe kind enough to send « x .003” Sylphons like the sample whiohllmvo.inord that we smy try same out on thie device. ^^°^Be upon '•ou make us a ohargo on those as 1 do your ganeroBity.

•mninklmr vou in advance for your attention, 1 am

Very truly yours.



Hotel Powhatan

Washington. D. C.

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E cli so n lab or a t or y ,

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in the detection oi' the s presence oi

has bc-en received tine tested et^tuis bility for the requirements ox -ne ,,evc..x »<..

The detector submitted 10 considerec pnd fee urate and could probe bly be me ue mecnenJ for service. Eov.ever, this instrument is no. sired lor use aboard submarines.

The tyoe oi instruj.ient required is < stent indicator, operettas automatically, ana ini- on e dial, no that the crew crn^aeceimine^

f Iso cor. by f n cl a pet to be

In connection with this indicator, it i desirabi e to hr ve a setting on tne intieetor,

^1°%^%.^ ^ ^ p( tt /l; , *the°f ‘^ilf Vtad , V*™ ••.srr.ini th- crav: that drn-r In connection with this indicating apperetas, it ns;

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A very sat automatic indicating srds , end has been

s factory indicating instrument oi the^ ■vue lies" been designed by -the Bureau Oi iroved for use on submarines.

The instrument submitted by you will fnf.ic^ l^u’orKtaM^Bui-i-ell tuba* which aimle of operation, end accurate enough fo:

nvactical check:


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FICE OF THE PRESIDENT January 7, 1918.

Thomas A. Edison, Esquire,

Room 502, U. S. Navy Annex,

Washington, D.C.

My dear Mr. Edison:

Permit me hy this letter to introduce to you Mr. Daniel M. Wise, one of the engineers of our Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, who has been assign¬ ed to assist you in the computing you contemplate. He is a man of unquestioned loyalty to the U. S. Government and I think he will he able to give you the assistance desired. In case some special additional work to that contemplated arises, he will probably be able to draw on his colleagues in the Department of Terrestrial Mag¬ netism for any service or information that may be avail¬ able in the Department.

I need hardly add that the services of Mr. Wise will be given gratuitously.

Faithfully yours.

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The Francis-Rosencrantz Multishot Gun Magazine

Through the courteous suggestion of Mr. .T. Pierpont Morgan that I atlvi.se official '"nshi ngton of an improvement of vast importance to the modern small firearm, I hep to submit to your serious consideration a pun magazine that doubles the cartridge capacity of any standard mun in the world today without enlarging the dimensions of the gun. I know this appears incredible but this claim can be proven by producing a regulation stock pun using this magazine that will fire double the gun's usual capacity with the same caliber bullet.

Now, Mr. Edison , I trust it will he your pleasure to •’•rant me an immediate authorization to present this matter to the proper authorities.

Assuring you of my deep appreciation for your kind attention pivon this letter,

Yours most respectfully^/'

Bishop Gittoi-Percil^ €o.

ivilsK aaii nmi-PKitriuoiidiM

•KO to -ISO East 2iTHJ Stukht

■Xicu'^ioKic, January 8th 1918.

Mr. S. C. Shaffnor,

c/o Thomas A. Edison laboratory,

Orango, H. J.

My Dear Mr. Shaffnor : -

Your favor of the 4th inst., received and am pleased to advise that wo would he able to me he up a cable such as you suggest with an insulated steel center and surrounded with wires separated in such a way as to give three or four separate conductors on the outside. This could be again insulated so as to be about the same diameter as the cable which w o have just shipped you, and I think could easily carry throe or four curronts on this cable.

When we made up tho first lot of cables for you, we made three cables, two of which wo shipped with the btoe- rubbor on the o\itside, tho other coble we heve briided with a hard finish fine cotton, and are_ having same covored with varnish. I thought it might be well for you to try this out, as it is quite possible that it will draw through tho water easier than what we furn¬ ished. This cable will be ready tomorrow and I would like very much if you would advise me whore to ship it.

Hoping for an early reply, I bog to remain,



Vico President.

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Knoxville, Tenn.,u.S.a.

January 9th 1918.



Mr. John P. Constable,

Chief Engineer,

Thomas A. Edison laboratory,

Orange, IT. J.

Dear Sir:-

Acknowledging yours of the 5th, and for the attention of Mr Mynderse, beg to advise that Mr Mynderse is now in Hew -York attending Automobile Show. However we note what you say in regard to sending you (4) Z&” x .003" Sylphons like sample you now have, and wish to advise that we have placed this v/ith our Order Department and with instructions to let these go forward immediately. Assuring you that the above will have our usual prompt attention. Thanking you, Y.re are.


Yours i Sales Department

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Dear Mr. Edison: /-fo;

I am sending you aJLg.|f*er 4^ which I had sent to Mr. Jh^nders , thinking that^ha^ and Mr. Hewitt might be willing to indorse it a.x\Ar bring it to you last Saturday. I was unable(to be in Washington that day. Apparently this letter reached Mr. Saunders too late for him to make use ox it, but he suggests that I sena it to you as a personal letter, which I hereby do.

Yours very truly,



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January 12, 1918

Thomas A'. Edison, Esq.,

Navy Annex, Mavy Departne Washington, D. C.

!.ty dear a-. Saisor.: •,«' \*»

& >

In reply to your nenoranoun: of January e?, sucndttir.^^- particulars of a multiple drill press, invented 'ey iTr. Aaron Hill, I wish to thank you for calling This natter to ay

It appears that this press should he very useful

three large fabricating yards, giving then the information, and suggesting that they go into the natter further with Hr.

It does not appear practicable for the Fleet Corpo¬ ration to undertake the manufacture of this drill press, as it is a natter that can better be handled by the shipyards

themselves .

January 14,191b.


Ur. B. B. Silver,

U. 8. S. Sachem, S. P.192,

Annapolis, ua.

Boar Ur. Silver: ' "

I intondoa to reply to your lottor of tho loth instant last Saturday, but soraohow or othor dia not got to it. Hov.ovor , 1 will reply nor., aha 'in the firot plaoo, rant to thank you for your budpot of newt:.

. X am going to comment on your letter ‘in the ordor in

which you write. i am glad to loarn that admiral Baric is hustl¬

ing to have guns, ammunition, etc. ready for you at Key host. Evidently thore hah boon something stirred.

I am sorry you are still tied up in tho ice, an I am euro you must bo impatient to get down to warmer climate whoro .you can get into active experiments onco more. It ie to be ' hopod that you will soon bo able to pull out.

iour ronarks in regard to addressing telogramc care of tho Bureau of •navigation, are duly notod. it .seems a little foolish, but then it is a great deal bettor to be on tho safo eido

and .just as well not to lot tho Dutchmen know the movomonte of

our boats. -

How in rep: rd to tho for toolc.thot you want, X havo boon thinking tho matter over, and it ; conic to mo to be more common oonro to lot you ran an to Baltimore: and buy the list of tools that you spocifiod in your letter. X prosumo you will havo onough ’.cash to fray for them, and you can send in. to Ur . hollow a cash account including those and I will O.K. and toll him I told you to do it. If we buy thorn up -hero and send them down, wo may not get juot exactly v.hat you want. So plohsc go ahead and buy then yourself. .

1 an glad to Joarn that your Questionnaire has boon token care or, and hopO. that it will turn out ail right. X hone you havo. rocoived the sulphuric anhydride, and aleo .the easo of Slue Amb'erol records which was shipped to you last JSriday.

V.ith kind regards to you and to Captain Patton, I remain, .

Yours very truly;

January 14, 1918.

Mr. Thome JS. Edison,

Room 502, Hqvy Annex,

Washington, D.C.

My dear Mr. Edison :

After looking this whole situation ober with Commandant Traut, and at hi 8 suggestion, I write t1 following facts :

This Havy Yard, containing about 21 acres on the edge of the city, is a "beauty spot” with palms, flowers, walks