The Beatty papers date from May 20, 1831, to June 1, 1886, with the bulk falling between February 2, 1855, and November 18, 1878. The papers touch on subjects such as the Tuscarora Academy, Steubenville Female Seminary, child rearing, homemaking, everyday life, education, and religion.
The correspondence is almost exclusively addressed to Joseph Henry Beatty (J. Henry or Henry) though a few are addressed to his parents and to his brother Reading. Joseph Henry received letters from his brother-in-law George Curwen, and letters to and from various family members relating news, giving advice, and asking questions about his schooling, his work in oil well management, his service in the Civil War, and farming. The letters also give substantial information about Joseph Henry's sister, Fanny, and her husband, Robert Holmes. A letter from George F.Curwen to J. Henry Beatty, January 12, 1861, contains a rough sketch of the layout of a plot of land [Bucks or Montgomery County?].
The diaries series consists of two sets of diaries: one written by J. Henry's mother, Mary A. Beatty, dated 1850-1854, and a 16-page diary written by J. Henry Beatty in 1855 while in boarding school. Mary's diaries detail the family's daily life as well as their experiences with education, marriage, childbirth, employment, and travel.
The miscellaneous items include several pages from The Press, a Philadelphia newspaper, regarding the oil industry in Northern Pennsylvania, a Calling card for Mr. and Mrs. Conrad Wiegand, and empty envelopes.