Mina Miller Edison: Much More Than Just Thomas Edison’s Wife

Mina Miller Edison

A Force is Born

On July 6, 1865, Mina Miller was born into a family of eight. As the Miller family continued to grow, Mina was the seventh of eleven children born to inventor Lewis Miller and Mary Alexander. Her parents had a love for education.  Mina attended and graduated from Akron High School in Ohio. After high school, she went on to study at a home and day school in Boston.

As we discussed in a previous blog, Mina married Thomas Edison in 1886 at the age of 20. Thomas Edison, a widow at the time, was smitten with her beauty upon meeting her. Let’s take a deeper look into the amazing life of Mina Miller Edison.

Mina’s Father the Inventor and Founder

Mina was born into a family that was used to being in the spotlight. Lewis Miller was a successful inventor. He also became one of the founders of Chautauqua Institution. The Miller family spent summers in their home along Chautauqua Lake. Her families love for Chautauqua was passed down to Mina. Therefore, when she had a family of her own she brought them to her family home in the institute.

Mina’s father and husband both had a passion for inventing. However, what they chose to invent was different from one another. While Thomas concentrated on technology and electronics, Lewis focused on farm equipment. They shared the common goal of making life easier with their inventions.

Lewis was also a religious man. His faith was a large influence in his founding of Chautauqua Institution. Therefore, the institute was founded as a Christian camp. Lewis and Reverend John Heyl Vincent thought Chautauqua would be the perfect religious retreat. However, over time the institute opened its doors to all religions and entertainment.

The Multiple Achievements of Mina Miller

Managing a Home Full of Staff and Children

When Mina and Thomas Edison got married she was much younger then he was. She was about half his age. Also, in the blink of an eye, she became the stepmother to his three children. Still being young herself she was not fully prepared for motherhood. However, Mina took charge of the household.

Often times Thomas was not around due to his work. This left Mina in charge of hiring the house staff as well as raising the children. Furthermore, she gave herself the title of “home executive”. Mina also held ownership of Glenmont. The home she shared with Thomas. Owning and managing her own home was the first of many successes for Mina.

Children of Her Own

Two years after their marriage Mina and Thomas added to their family with their first child, Madeleine. This started the same pattern of children Thomas had with his first wife. Their daughter was soon followed by two sons, Charles and Theodore. These additions to their family added more challenges for Mina.

She continued to struggle with her relationship with her stepdaughter. Also, as the three eldest Edison children grew their relationships with their parents did not. Mina’s stepchildren did not take education as seriously as she did. They also believed that Edison’s fame could make their futures for them. Due to this belief, Mina’s stepchildren went on to live mediocre lives. Meanwhile, her own children thrived with their education and achieved their goals of being successful.

Volunteering in West Orange

Mina Miller Edison was not one to sit idly by while her husband worked day and night. Therefore, she filled her time with running the household and helping Thomas with his business. Mina also enjoyed working with organizations and causes.

Mina was very involved with the West Orange Community. She was an influential part of organizing the West Orange Community League. A program which provides recreation and other cultural needs. Mina’s work lives on in the league. It is still serving West Orange today. Also, during The Great Depression Mina single-handedly began a study. This study was on the effects unemployment was having on local hospitals and other affiliated organizations. It was important for the community to see how they were being affected by the heightening rates.

Chautauqua Institute and Mina’s Influence

Mina’s father’s love for Chautauqua was passed down to his daughter. Along with being a resident every summer, Mina dedicated herself to many organizations locally. She specifically had a love for birds. She also supported land and wildlife conservation. Often times Mina would donate her own funds to projects for Chautauqua.

Mina became a trustee of the institute. Her passion for the area did not go unnoticed. Therefore, others involved in Chautauqua held Mina in high regards. Much like her father, Mina continued her involvement with her beloved Institute until her passing in 1947.

The Thomas Alva Edison Foundation

After Thomas Edison passed away, Mina started The Thomas Alva Edison Foundation in his memory.  The foundation combined both Thomas’s and Mina’s passions. Mina’s love for education and Thomas’s love for science. However, later on, the nature of the foundation changed. It was no longer dedicated to advancements in science and education. It became a foundation aimed at preserving Thomas Edison’s name and accomplishments.

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Keep an eye out for our future blogs on Mina Miller Edison.

Helpful Sites

Do you want to learn more about Mina Miller Edison

Museums are great places to find information. Check out the Edison Museum.

Go to this page to learn more on Mina’s Parents.

Also, did you know that you can visit some very famous graves? Check out the site Find a Grave for more information.

Want to visit the place Mina loved so much? Make a reservation at Chautauqua Institute today!

Wrapping It Up

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