This collection contains 20 letters, 1 copied document, and 1 essay fragment related to members of the extended Jackman family, who lived in Massachusetts, Vermont, Illinois, Minnesota, and Washington during the late 19th century. The material, which includes many letters by women, concerns topics such as religion, family life and news, the Civil War, family history, and education. Most correspondents wrote only 1 or 2 letters.
The first item is a letter David McDonald wrote about Indiana University School of Law in 1848, addressed to an unidentified recipient. A notarized document dated April 4, 1851, provides genealogical information about the family of Elijah and Eunice Hall, and most remaining items are letters written to and received by their daughter Mary Ann and her descendants. The letters concern a variety of topics related to daily life throughout the latter half of the 19th century, including educational experiences (Ada's letter of February 14, 1858, from Moline, Illinois, for example) and the problems associated with earning a living in Illinois and Indiana (Mary A. Jackman's letter of July 10, 1859, for example). Some correspondents discussed religion, such as their spiritual beliefs and skepticism about Universalist teachings (January 5, 1862). During the war, one person wrote about an acquaintance who had briefly served in the Union Army, and Mary A. Merriman shared her opinion that the Civil War was a chastisement of the nation for "pride and naughtiness of heart" (June 5, 1863).
Later letters include mentions of Elijah Hall's War of 1812 service and its detrimental effects on him, and William Grupe's Civil War service. One letter concerns an unidentified woman's life in San Francisco, California, in 1878, and 6 late items reflect the Grupe family's life in Dayton, Washington. Among the latter are a letter about social life at the Washington State Normal School in 1900, and an undated essay fragment entitled "When a Western Girl Comes East" (4 pages) about regional differences and misconceptions between the residents of the Pacific Coast and the state of New York.