This collection is made up of correspondence, photographs, and other materials related to the family of Samuel Prioleau Ravenel and his wife Margaretta Fleming Parker Ravenel. Many of the letters concern life in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Charleston, South Carolina, before, during, and after the Civil War.
The Correspondence series (215 items) comprises the bulk of the collection. Many of the earliest items are incoming personal letters to Clarissa Walton and Thomas Fleming from friends, their son. These and other early items largely pertain to everyday life and social activities in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Charleston, South Carolina. The series includes a group of letters that Thomas and Margaretta Fleming Parker wrote to the Flemings, his in-laws and her parents, about life in Charleston in 1861; Margaretta occasionally referred to the war. James McCarter wrote two letters from Charleston in June 1862 about the flight of civilians from the city and other effects of the war.
Ravenel family correspondence begins in the late 1850s with letters that Samuel Prioleau Ravenel received from a correspondent in Philadelphia; at the time, he lived in Pendleton, South Carolina. Ravenel began to correspond with Margaretta Parker in 1862, and they discussed their courtship, plans to marry, and daily lives until 1865. In letters to Margaretta and, in the late 1860s, to his father, Daniel, Samuel Prioleau Ravenel often wrote about Reconstruction policies, freedmen, and other political topics. Daniel Ravenel wrote to his son and his daughter-in-law about life in Charleston.
Samuel Prioleau and Margaretta Ravenel spent much of the late 1860s in Switzerland and in Paris, France, which Margaretta described in letters to her mother Clarissa Walton Fleming. Fleming responded with news from home, including comments about the 1868 presidential election and her life in Philadelphia. Throughout the 1870s, Samuel and Margaretta corresponded with their families about Charleston socialites and family news from South Carolina and their home in Highlands, North Carolina. They often discussed the births and growth of their children. A group of letters written in 1902 concerns the death of Samuel Prioleau Ravenel. Additional items from the early 20th century concern the Ravenel family's interest in a sugar mill and other topics.
The Photographs series (5 items) contains carte-de-visite portraits of S. Prioleau Ravenel in a military overcoat (1 item), Arthur Parker (1 item), and a woman, tentatively identified as Margaretta Ravenel or "Annie" (2 items), as well as a cabinet card photograph of three men around a table, taken in Mexico.
The Printed Items series (7 items) includes copies of a Supplement to Charleston Mercury (November 30, 1867), the Charleston Daily Courier-Extra (December 3, 1867), and The Charleston Mercury (May 2, 1868). Also included are a page from The Tri-Weekly Courier (December 9, 1867), a playbill for a production of Ten Nights in a Barroom at the Wardman Park theatre (April 23, 1929), a newspaper clipping containing a copy of "Mother Shipton's Prophecy" (undated), a calling card for "Miss Loat" of Balham Hill (undated); and a single book: Mason Smith Family Letters, 1860-1868, edited by Daniel E. Huger Smith, Alice R. Huger Smith, and Arney R. Childs (Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1950).