This collection (34 items) contains the incoming and outgoing correspondence of Elihu and Phebe Russell of New Bedford, Massachusetts. Several items pertain to whaling voyages in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans in the mid- to late 1840s, particularly around the Azores and the eastern coast of Africa. Elihu wrote to Phebe about his experiences on the bark Emma in 1844. He received letters from his nephew, Phillip Russell, who described his own experiences on the Emma (August 5, 1847), and from John W. Thompson, who wished to accompany Elihu on a future voyage (June 14, 1848). Phebe's brother, Charles D. Davenport, also discussed a whaling voyage (June 20, 1848). Many of the whaling letters include complaints about a lack of success and remarks about other ships.
The remaining correspondence is largely comprised of personal letters to Phebe Russell from her cousin, Cordelia Wright of Hartwick, New York, and other family members in New York and Massachusetts. Wright provided family news and sometimes discussed her teaching career, religion, temperance, and state politics; on one occasion, she mentioned the Mexican-American War (June 18, 1846). Hanna Church, a friend in Boston, wrote about her homesickness for New Bedford. Several items from 1848 refer to a fire that destroyed much of Phebe's father's property. The collection includes letters that Phebe and Elihu wrote to one another while she visited family members in Hartwick, New York, in the summer of 1847. The final item is a letter that Francisco Paula [Leal], Jr., wrote to Elihu Russell on April 20, 1864, inviting Russell to visit Terceira Island when he returned to the Azores.