The Laidley family papers are comprised of letters, a travel diary, miscellaneous documents, creative writing, genealogical materials, business cards, newspaper clippings, and photographs.
Correspondence: The bulk of the letters are from Theodore T.S. Laidley to his father, John Osborne Laidley, between 1838 and 1861. The collection also contains letters from Theodore to his brother William Sydney Laidley, and letters from various friends and family members, including Amacetta Laidley and George W. Summers, to John Osborne Laidley.
Theodore's early letters describe his life at the United States Military Academy at West Point. After graduating from West Point, Theodore spent time at the Watervliet Arsenal near Troy, New York. He wrote to his father monthly about military life, his enjoyment of New York State, and his health. Theodore took an interest in politics, and was very much concerned about bills, policies, and appointments that he felt were detrimental to the future of the army.
Letters from Theodore contain news about his family, his wife's family, and their health. He also wrote to his father with advice about his siblings. Fewer letters exist from the other Laidley children, and Theodore refers to them being infrequent correspondents. Amacetta did write her father from Washington, recounting politicians and writers she had met. Amacetta's husband, George W. Summers, wrote to John Osborne Laidley about legal matters and his future in politics. Laidley's friends and children wrote frequently about faith and church matters. Following John Osborne Laidley's death in 1863, the bulk of the letters are from Theodore Laidley to his brother, William Sydney Laidley.
Diary: The travel diary is the record of an unidentified family member's journey from Charleston, West Virginia, to Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1879. It contains several pencil drawings including sketches of bridges, a ship, the Chesapeake Bay, and a chandelier.
Documents: The miscellaneous documents consist of receipts, a bill of sale, and a deed.
Creative Writing: The creative writing series contains two poems and a short novel of the Civil War written by William Sydney Laidley.
Personal and Genealogical Materials: The personal and genealogical materials consist of Thomas Laidley's report cards, including some from West Point, a large family tree, information about individual family members, and records of births, deaths, and marriages.
Business Cards: The business card series is made up of the business cards of Theodore Laidley and William Sydney Laidley. William Sydney Laidley's business card features a pencil drawing of an infant on the reverse.
Newspaper Clippings: The collection includes two newspaper clippings. The first is a report of the sinking of the steamer Sultan and the death of Sarah Laidley Poage. The second is a report of a trip to Europe by a member of the Laidley family.
Photographs: The photographs series is composed of three photographs, including two of William Sydney Laidley and one of an unidentified member of the Laidley family.