This collection consists of 37 letters and 4 calling cards related to Stephen Edwin Wait of Traverse City, Michigan, and his second wife, Ellen Packard of Racine, Wisconsin.
The correspondence primarily consists of letters between Stephen E. Wait (S. E. Wait) and Ellen Packard, beginning after the death of Wait's first wife, Louisa, a childhood friend of Packard's, and continuing into the first year of their marriage. They discussed Louisa's death, their beliefs about the afterlife, their opinions on marriage, social norms, and other subjects. After proposing marriage in his letter of January 1, 1870, Wait attempted to describe himself in more detail and offered to travel to Racine, preferring to meet Packard before marrying her. After their marriage, he described his boat trips from Traverse City to Chicago along Lake Michigan and she shared family news from Wisconsin.
Additional correspondence includes a letter to S. E. Wait from Samuel and Sarah E. Scott in Clinton, Ohio, who discussed Samuel's teaching work and local schools (December 22, 1851); a letter from Ellen Packard to Louisa Wait (March 13, 1864); and several letters to Wait from his mother (1 item) and an aunt, Phoebe Hill (4 items). After 1871, Wait and Packard received a letter from Lewis G. Steven, a self-described "Indian medicine man" who wished to work in Wait's store (July 28, 1879), and several members of the Packard family, who reported on life in Racine and commented on the deaths and estates of Ellen Packard's parents, Roswell and Susan Packard.
The final item is a 10-page letter that Minnie [Wait] wrote to her brother Edmund about life at the Michigan State Normal School in Ypsilanti, Michigan (October 27, 1895). She described a "new woman" who adopted masculine habits and dress and discussed a day in her scholarly life at the school. The collection also contains 4 calling cards; one item consists of two cards tied together with a ribbon.