This collection is made up of correspondence, legal documents, financial records, maps, and ephemera related to the descendants and extended family of Dr. Joseph Cole of Sharon, Connecticut; Auburn, New York; and Albion, New York.
The collection's correspondence includes letters from the children and other descendants of Dr. Joseph Cole of Sharon, Connecticut, and Auburn, New York, between 1817 and 1942. Most of the early letters in the collection are addressed to sisters Laura Altie and Mary Parsons Cole from female friends in New York. Several correspondents, including Mary Ann Kellogg and Chloe Hyde, were students at Troy Female Seminary in Troy, New York, in the 1820s and 1830s. Kellogg provided a detailed description of the school before its main building was constructed (June 24, 1821), and Chloe Hyde later shared information about her coursework and the lives of fellow students. Other acquaintances told the sisters of their religious and social lives in different areas of New York, including Lanesborough, Buffalo, and Albany.
Almeron and Dan Cole received letters from friends, family, and business acquaintances, including their brother-in-law, Hiram Foote Mather. These include 7 letters by Frances M. Elliott, who wrote Dan, her future husband, in 1835 and 1836 about her life in Scottsville, New York, and her anticipation of their upcoming marriage. Letters from the 1840s to mid-1860s are most frequently addressed to the Cole brothers and to their brother-in-law, Hiram Foote Mather, about business affairs. Many regard legal matters in Niles and Grand Rapids, Michigan.
After the mid-1860s, much of the correspondence is composed of personal and business letters between David Hyde Mather, his brother-in-law George McClure Welles, and his brothers Joseph and John Mather, who moved out West in the late 1800s. Mather also received many personal letters from his niece, Harriet Prentiss Welles, during her time as postmistress of Great Bend, Kansas, who discussed her personal finances and loans. The papers also contain some of Daniel H. Cole's business correspondence. Other correspondence from this period includes letters between George McClure Welles and Lewis Hunt about Harriet Prentiss Welles's share of Almeron Cole's estate, and personal correspondence addressed to Mary Jane Cole of Albion, New York. She received letters from many female acquaintances and a series from her cousin, D. Williams Patterson, tracing the genealogy of the Hyde family to the mid-18th century.
A selection of letters from the 20th century relate to Marston Taylor Bogert, Morrison McMath, and Lizette Harrison. Between 1912 and the 1920s, Bogert corresponded with several people in Maine, regarding property along Long Pond near Rome, Maine. Other letters relate to the family of Morrison H. McMath, a lawyer from Rochester, New York. A late series of letters by Elizabeth ("Lizette") P. Harrison of Portland, Oregon, to Ada Howe Kent of California, reflects her financial troubles and emotional state during the early years of the Great Depression.
Legal documents include papers relating to the Newton and North Hempstead Plank Road Company; New York Supreme Court Cases heard between 1848 and 1894; estate administration papers; and financial documents and records. The Cole family papers contain documents concerning taxes paid on land holdings in Rome, Maine, in the early 20th century, including property held by Edward F. Bragg in Belgrade, Maine.
Materials relating to education include six checks from the 1860s made out to Phipps' U. Seminary, a 1906 report card for a student at the United States Naval Academy, and an undated "Report Book" containing two essays. An assortment of ephemeral items and manuscript maps of Marston T. Bogert's property along Long Pond in Rome, Maine, also appear in the collection.
The Cole family papers also contain essays, notes, and poetry. Items of note include an 1850s manuscript response of the County of Orleans, New York, to recent actions of slaveholding states, calling for attendance at a Republican Party convention in Syracuse; a 1925 essay entitled "The Beginnings of Modern Spiritualism in and Near Rochester," by Adelbert Cronised; a lengthy typed travelogue of India; and an essay on the history of the Isthmus of Panama and the Panama Canal.