The Bird family papers are made up of correspondence, documents, ephemera, and other materials related to members of the Bird family of East Smithfield, Pennsylvania. A number of letters written between George Niles Bird and Frances Rowe depict their lengthy, occasionally difficult, courtship in the late 19th century. Letters from other friends and family members are interspersed, including a letter from Hope Rowe recounting the funeral of President James A. Garfield (October 9, 1881).
Nancy N. Bird's correspondence consists primarily of incoming personal letters. Nancy's cousins wrote many of the letters, with the family's religiosity influencing much of their writing. The Bird family papers include many of Nancy N. Bird's speeches, including a series of talks delivered to fellow members of the Women's Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) between 1886 and 1912. She discussed temperance, religion, and topics of local interest, including the history of Smithfield, Pennsylvania. Nancy N. Bird's printed materials consist primarily of ephemera, programs, and newspaper clippings, largely related to her work with the WCTU and to the Bradford Baptist Association. Also present are three items written by Nancy: a short book entitled A History of the Sunday Schools in East Smithfield, PA. Since 1822, and two copies of The History of the Baptist Church of East Smithfield, PA. Other materials related to Nancy include journal pages, a photograph, and Sunday School papers.
Helen Bird's letters, written to her mother, chronicle her year at the West Chester Normal School, 1912-1913, and include frequent complaints about the atmosphere, the people, and the food.
Materials relating to George Bird consist primarily of incoming correspondence from friends and from his cousin Geraldine ("Jerry"). Jerry, who financially supported George during his time at Pennsylvania State University, also offered advice and updates on her academic life at Cornell University, while George's friend Eugene Edgar Doll discussed his experiences at the University of Chicago and his patronage of the arts. The collection also includes reports from George Bird's early studies and from his time at Pennsylvania State.
Personal letters from other members of the Niles and Bird families include early letters from Hannah Niles to her husband Samuel, and letters addressed to George N. Bird, his wife Frances, and their daughter-in-law Carrie. Two printed letters from "Robert and Bernie" in Impur, India, describe the country and their educational and missionary work; on January 7, 1921, they mentioned Gandhi's non-cooperation movement.
The collection contains diaries and journals, account books, and albums. The diaries include an 1844 unsigned journal, Hannah Minor Niles' 1866 diary, Nancy Niles Bird's 1851 diary, and Carrie M. Bird's 1921 diary. An account books tracks John Bird's expenses between 1846 and 1858, and a record book kept by Nancy Niles Bird includes the meeting minutes from the Soldiers Aid Society during the Civil War and household accounts. George Bird's autograph album covers the years 1879-1881 and Nancy Niles Bird's scrapbook, kept between 1850 and 1925, contains newspaper articles about her mother Hannah, members of the Bird family, and acquaintances from Pennsylvania and Kansas.
Other miscellaneous items include a printed map, a document related to the military chapel at Ellington Field, Texas, genealogical items, and manuscript poems.