The Farley family papers contain the letters and legal documents of a well-educated Boston family during the first half of the 19th century. The collection consists of 153 letters, 128 legal documents, and 3 miscellaneous items. Though the collection contains a few documents relating to Jabez and Susanna Farley, the focus of the collection, particularly the letters, are their children Susan and Henry.
The earliest items in the Correspondence series are addressed to "Sukey" (Susanna) Swasey and her brother Joseph Swasey from several people: their uncle George Stacey living in Newbury Park, Massachusetts; their sister-in-law Mrs. Tacy Anna (Bevan) Stacey, who was living in Chester, Pennsylvania; and from friend Judith Foster.
Henry's earliest letter is from 1810; it was written to his father Jabez Farley, while Henry was living away from his family and working for a Mr. Safford. He mentioned having Thanksgiving on November 22, 1810 (Tuesday). The bulk of Henry's letters, however, are addressed to his brother Jabez. Henry Farley's letters include a small number concerning his medical practice in the west, and are a fine resource for the study of a northern migrant to the Deep South. His letters from both Louisiana and Texas provide information of the social life and economy of the South, and document an interesting case of a northerner from a family with anti-slavery slavery sentiments becoming increasingly wedded to the slave labor system. Susan Farley's letters provide a literate and occasionally witty commentary on politics, social life, and family life in Boston. The few letters from the period of the War of 1812 reflect the family's Federalist, anti-war sympathies.
The Documents series (1761-1902) contains 128 legal documents, including a large number of Ipswich deed transfers. The items between 1761 and 1782 primarily involve General Michael Farley's land transactions. The 1782-1808 items record the transactions of Joseph Swasey and Jabez Farley. A contract from 1813 verifies an agreement for mill work between Jabez Farley and Joel Smith. Many of the early 19th century documents concern Jabez Farley's role as justice of the peace and assistant assessor for the district of Ipswich, and his various appointments, including that of notary public. The documents from 1829-1834 are primarily shipping inventories and receipts of the Brig Quill and the Schooner Eagle , created by Master of Accounts Thomas Farley.
The Miscellaneous series includes a family record for the Kilton family (c.1850), a typed record for Lucas Kelton from the Revolutionary rolls in the War Department, and an undated document from Sylvanus Butten describing the faults of Benjamin W. Ford.