The William H. Coats papers are made up of incoming correspondence to Coats from his mother and acquaintances, who wrote about life in Connecticut and Michigan during the Civil War, and documents related to his time at the Connecticut Literary Institution and other aspects of his life.
The Correspondence series (24 items) contains letters to Coats from friends and family members. Acquaintances in New York, Connecticut, and Michigan corresponded with Coats throughout the Civil War period, providing updates on their daily lives and, in one case, offering humorous advice on dealing with women (March 20, 1861). Schuyler Grant wrote a letter from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he attended school, and shared news of mutual acquaintances who had recently graduated from the University of Michigan; he also requested career advice (May 7, 1864). His letter of June 1, 1865, discusses events that followed Confederate troops' surrender and optimism about Reconstruction. The Hines family of Binghamton, New York, wrote to Coats about an employment opportunity that Coats accepted in the summer of 1863. Later items include 4 letters by Abby L. Coats, who wrote to her son about family health and news of North Stonington, Connecticut, and 1 by "Ella," a friend, who congratulated him on his upcoming marriage (March 8, 1868).
The Ephemera and Documents series (5 items) includes a "Notice of Enrollment" informing Coats of his eligibility for military service (July 15, 1864). Other items are a school report from the Connecticut Literary Instutition (March 22, 1859), printed programs, and calling cards for residents of East Saginaw, Michigan.