This collection is made up of 27 personal letters addressed to members of the Van Dusen family and to Warren C. Howe of Warren County, New York. The first 9 items include 8 letters that Edwin Van Dusen sent to his brother Henry from May 20, 1867-May 10, 1869; his letter of June 26, 1867, is addressed to "Dear Sir." Edwin wrote about his travels in Missouri and his life in Chillicothe, where he and his wife Harriet settled in May or June 1867. He wrote about the prairie, some of the difficulties in settling in a new locale, and the popularity of land speculation in the area. By the time he sent his final letter, he planned to return to New York. He mentioned Fourth of July celebrations of Chillicothe's African-American community in his letter of June 26, 1867.
The second group of items consists of 13 letters that M. Sophia Watkins sent to Ira Van Dusen from March 19, 1869-October 31, 1870. She discussed aspects of her life in Caldwell (now Lake George), New York, including her experiences as a schoolteacher. She also mentioned her leisure activities, which included attendance at religious services and camp meetings, and visiting "the falls." Her letter of September 6, 1869, offers condolences following the death of Ira's father, Abraham Van Dusen. The collection also contains letters from Julia [Van Dusen] to one of her brothers (July 17, 1870) and from Zina Van Dusen to Henry Van Dusen (September 24, 1876). In his letter, Zina described his life in the state of Washington and the exploits of the Seattle Coal & Transportation Company; he also mentioned the flourishing Seattle fish market and discussed salmon species.
The final 4 letters are signed by "Anna Mac R." (possibly Anna Ramsey). From January 5, 1912, to February 25, 1912, she sent letters to Warren C. Howe of Lake George, New York, regarding her social life in Thurman, New York. She encouraged Warren to visit in the summer when her father would be gone, though she later reconsidered, and teased him about marriage. Her final letter, written from Stony Creek, New York, on September 3, 1918, is addressed to Warren's wife (who was also Anna's sister). Anna explained some of the difficulties she faced as a new teacher entering an unruly classroom, and commented on the locals' hospitality.