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Edmund William Pratt Papers

 Collection
Identifier: 2001-11

Collection Scope

The collection has been arranged in five series:

SERIES I: General Correspondence (1952-1972).

SERIES II: Masters Family (November 1953-1967) consisting of correspondence with Edith Masters and her daughter Nancy who lived in Washington DC. Edith’s mother was part of the Booth family, and most of the correspondence concerns family matters as Edmund tried to be of help to the Masters’ family as they advanced in age. Some of this correspondence extended to Edith Master’s brother Stewart Lux Wirgman who lived in Delaware.

SERIES III: Pratt Family (1952-1973).

SERIES IV: Sarnoff Family (1952-1972) contains letters and audio tapes with Rick and Mary Sarnoff who lived in the St. Louis, Missouri, area. Rick Sarnoff was employed by Alsco of St. Louis who specialized in aluminum screens, storm windows and doors, and siding. Edmund also remained close with his two sons through letters and audiotapes.

SERIES V: Edmund Pratt Old Cars (1952-1962).

The collection generally includes a wide range of topics ranging from health issues, politics, religion, movies, economic conditions, weather, and family matters.

Dates

  • 1947 - 1997

Creator

Access

Access to the collection is unrestricted.

Use

Permission to use collection materials must be requested in writing.

History

Edmund William Pratt was born 15 Oct 1905 in Detroit, one of four children of Adeline Clara Louise Booth and William Austin Pratt. The Pratts were a well-established Detroit family long before the Booth family arrived in the 1880’s. It is alleged that the Pratt family grazed livestock in Grand Circus Park in the early years of the nineteenth century. They rented lodgings in the Woodbridge area to the Booth family when the Booths first arrived in Detroit.

Cranbrook quickly became a part of young Edmund’s life for it was here that his Booth grandparents, Henry and Clara, lived as well as his Uncle George and Aunt Nellie Booth. Family excursions from Detroit to Bloomfield Hills were frequent, and Edmund spent a considerable amount of his childhood and adolescence on the Cranbrook grounds. Eventually Edmund graduated from Northern High School and later attended Wayne State University and embarked on a career as an illuminating engineer for Detroit Edison. Long after his retirement he continued to maintain an interest in electrical engineering.

Edmund met Martha Haywood Johnson at the wedding of his best friend and was immediately smitten by her beauty and gentle southern ways. Martha was born in Americus, Georgia. Edmund’s initial proposal to Martha was rejected, however a year later, after a surprise (to Martha) motor trip to Buffalo, NY they were married on 31 Aug 1931. Their marriage remained strong for close to 61 years until Martha died in 1992. They had two sons, Henry Johnson Pratt (1934) and William Austin Pratt (1940).

Edmund and Martha Pratt spent most of their married life in the Birmingham, Michigan area. Edmund spent his entire working career at the Detroit Edison office on Washington Blvd in Downtown Detroit where he held positions in sales and marketing of Edison’s commercial lighting business. Edmund retired in 1970 after spending his later years training new employees, a task at which he excelled and dearly loved.

Following his retirement, Edmund was active in promoting the commuter trains (Downtown Detroit) operated by the Grand Trunk Railway. He organized the Grand Trunk Commuters Association. He was also very active in the Cranbrook House Gardens Auxiliary and gave guided tours of the Cranbrook Gardens, and was a very active member of Christ Church Cranbrook where he served as chairman of the church’s building and grounds committee. He also served on the boards of Civic Searchlight and the Cranbrook Music Guild. For many years Edmund was interested in buying and selling old cars, as well as helping others locate parts or a particular make or model of a particular car. Eventually Edmund couldn’t keep his feet on the ground and became a member of the Guild Muldoons Balloon Platoon of hot air balloons.

Extent

2.9 Linear Feet (7 MS)

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Edmund William Pratt was the grandson of Henry Wood and Clara Gagnier Booth, the son of Adeline Clara Louise Booth and William Austin Pratt. The Pratts were a well-established Detroit family long before the Booth family arrived in the 1880’s. Cranbrook quickly became a part of young Edmund’s life and his family made frequest excursions from Detroit to Bloomfield Hills, spending much of his childhood and adolescence on the Cranbrook grounds. Pratt became an illuminating engineer for Detroit Edison and maintained an interest in electrical engineering long after his retirement. He was very active in the Cranbrook House Gardens Auxiliary and gave guided tours of the Cranbrook Gardens, he was a very active member of Christ Church Cranbrook where he served as chairman of the church’s building and grounds committee, and he also served on the boards of Civic Searchlight and the Cranbrook Music Guild. For many years Edmund was interested in buying and selling old cars, as well as helping others locate parts or a particular make or model of a particular car. Eventually Edmund couldn’t keep his feet on the ground and became a member of the Guild Muldoons Balloon Platoon of hot air balloons. The collection consists primarily of correspondence dating from 1952-1972. It includes a wide range of topics ranging from health issues, politics, religion, movies to see, economic conditions, weather, and family matters. In an era prior to cell phones, Edmund excelled at communicating with relatives and friends by letter or by audiotapes. Through the years 1953-1967 Edmund had a tremendous amount of written correspondence with Edith Masters and her daughter Nancy who lived in Washington DC. Edith’s mother was part of the Booth family. Most of the correspondence concerns family matters as Edmund tried to be of help to the Masters’ family as they advanced in age. Some of this correspondence extended to Edith Master’s brother Stewart Lux Wirgman who lived in Delaware. Edmund Pratt also exchanged letters and oral tapes with Rick and Mary Sarnoff who lived in the St. Louis, Missouri. Rick Sarnoff was employed by Alsco of St. Louis who specialized in aluminum screens, storm windows and doors, and siding. Edmund also remained close with his two sons through letters and audiotapes.

Arrangement

The collection has been arranged in five series: SERIES I: General Correspondence (Box 1-2), Masters Family (Box 3), Pratt Family (box 4-5), Sarnoff Family (Box 5-6), and Old Cars (Box 7), and is arranged chronologically within each.

Acquisition

Unknown.

Related Materials

Christ Church Cranbrook Records (1992-01)

George Gough Booth Papers (1981-01)

Cranbrook School Records (1979-06)

Audio Cassette Collection (1990-09, Tape #56)

Transfers

Photographs removed to Photograph Special File.

Processing History

Processed by Hub Beudert, 2008. Finding aid written by Jennifer Huff.
Title
Guide to the Edmund William Pratt Papers
Status
Under Revision
Author
Finding aid written by Jennifer Huff.
Date
2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Edition statement
Resource record created by Laura MacNewman.

Repository Details

Part of the Cranbrook Archives, Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research Repository

Contact:
39221 Woodward Ave.
P.O. Box 801
Bloomfield Hills MI 48303 US