The Perley B. Dickinson papers consist of 33 letters addressed to Perley Dickinson, 2 letters addressed to his brother, Benjamin Franklin Dickinson, 1 newspaper clipping, 4 form letters sent by newspapers, and 2 envelopes addressed to Perley Dickinson. One of the letters sent to Benjamin Franklin Dickinson is from his son Leonard and the other is from T. B. Richardson. Two of the letters sent to Dickinson were written by his ex-wife, Hannah S. Dickinson. 30 of the letters were written by women in response to personal advertisements Dickinson placed in serials. These letters were written by 19 different women; 6 of these women wrote from 2 to 4 letters each. The rest of the women just wrote one.
The letters Dickinson received from his sister and son discuss general topics such as events in their lives and the weather in New England. The two letters from Dickinson's ex-wife, however, discuss a court settlement regarding hay and the division of their property. The letters from women who are responding to Dickinson's personal ads often describe the writer's appearance and personality - "not exactly homely and not a beauty" (Sylvia A. Scott, June 2, 1898) and discuss exchanging photos. Some mention his ads, which described him as a "smart old man" and "spiritualist," while others discuss his dislike for alcohol and tobacco. One letter writer refuses his request that she send a lock of hair and comments that his writing is "feminine" (Blanche H. Rogers, December 14, 1898). Another writer, in her third and final letter, comments that Dickinson is not really interested in finding a wife but rather enjoys flirting (V. E. Hansberry, April 16, 1900). The letter writers vary in age, from the mid-twenties to having grown and married children, and are geographically dispersed over 11 states, 10 of which are east of the Mississippi River.