This collection consists of around 100 incoming letters addressed to Rear Admiral Joseph Newton Hemphill of Ripley, Ohio, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Hemphill's parents, siblings, and cousins sent letters during the first years of his naval career (1868-1872), and his wife and daughter wrote between 1897 and 1908. Also included are additional letters and a series of reports concerning Hemphill's standing in his United States Naval Academy class.
The Correspondence series comprises the bulk of the collection. During his time at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Joseph N. Hemphill received 1 letter from his mother, who provided educational and spiritual advice (October 3, 1865), and 1 letter from his father, who described President Ulysses S. Grant's inauguration (March 14, 1869). The bulk of the correspondence series consists of incoming letters from Hemphill's family, written while he served with the United States Navy. His mother, father, and siblings all provided family news and social updates from Ripley, Ohio, and his parents occasionally commented on local and national political issues. Around 1897, Hemphill received 2 letters from his wife Dora ("Oro"), who discussed the likely approach of war (Spanish-American War). In 1908, Hemphill's daughter Oro Joe wrote of her life in Yokohama and Tokyo, Japan, where she lived while he served elsewhere in the country. The final letters are addressed to Oro Joe in the early 20th century. In addition to his incoming correspondence, Joseph N. Hemphill wrote 2 letters to his wife while serving in the navy.
Printed items (November 1862-May 1864) include 11 monthly class standing reports for Joseph Hemphill during his time at the United States Naval Academy, a program for the Ohio delegation to the 1868 Republican National Convention, and a program for a vocal concert, accompanied by two newspaper clippings of hymns and poetry.