This collection is made up of correspondence, documents, financial records, newspaper clippings, and other items related to Salem, New York, and its residents, primarily from the 1780s-1890s. Many of the items were once bound together.
The Correspondence series is comprised of around 60 incoming and outgoing letters related to Salem, New York, and to the history of the state of New York. Early letters between residents of Salem and other locales concern a wide range of topics including education, political offices and appointments, and legal cases. After 1856, most items are incoming letters to James Gibson, a native of Salem who was state senator, judge, and president of the Washington Academy. Three letters written during the Civil War concern military commissions and officers. Many of Gibson's incoming letters, particularly later items, relate to his genealogical work; some correspondents offered or requested information about their ancestors.
The Documents series contains over 140 indentures, financial records, petitions, and other items, primarily related to residents of Salem, New York, in the 18th and 19th centuries. Many of the indentures concern land ownership in Washington, County, New York, and personal financial agreements. Other material relates to the Washington Academy, including a list of pupils. Legal orders largely concern private debts, and one document pertains to a local election. Some documents have newspaper clippings pasted onto them, and others were once bound together. One item is a diploma that the Washington Academy issued to James McEl. A group of land indentures is housed in a large bound volume.
The collection's Printed Items include articles, programs, and newspaper clippings. The majority of newspaper clippings concern the Washington Academy in Salem, New York. Other articles concern the "Bench and Bar of Washington County," the Bancroft Public Library, and the family of William Williams. Some clippings are pasted onto large sheets of paper, with manuscript annotations; a small number of complete newspapers are present. The series also has several copies of a program from the dedication ceremony of the Bancroft Public Library in July 1890.
The Photograph, Essay, Notes, and Fragments series is made up of items pertaining to Salem, New York. The carte-de-visite photograph depicts J. B. Steele. The various notes, essay, and fragments pertain to genealogy.