This collection is largely comprised of letters from Flora F. Lowe to her friend Annie Wood, while working as a teacher for the Fairlawn School (for African Americans) in Savannah, Georgia, 1877-1880; for the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, 1888; and for the newly formed Oakland Institute for Presbyterian Learning in Asheville, North Carolina, 1890.
Flora F. Lowe wrote the first eight letters in the collection while teaching at the Fairlawn School for African Americans on East Broad Street in Savannah, Georgia, 1877-1880. In these letters she discussed her god-child Amanda Curley's and Addie's progress at an Episcopal school in Baltimore, remarking on Addie's clothing, Amanda's unhappiness about learning washing and needlework ("I am very glad the girls are taught such things, for to have them brought up useless 'fine ladies' is far from my desire," November 5, 1877), and dangers of Catholic indoctrination. She also described local African American religion, society, and scholarship. She praised, for example, the educational successes of Fannie Reynolds, while writing disparagingly about local religious activities/beliefs, discussing young women's prayers, stories told to her by an older black woman, the "shout" (a dance and singing of a "negro melody"), and baptisms. She also commented on matriarchal family dynamics (November 5, 1877). Lowe's goal was to send as many of her students as possible to Northern schools, where she believed they would be trained in Northern churches to improve their morals and, hopefully, return to South to help educate "people of their own color." She particularly praised (and described) her students Nettie Ingliss, Claudia Dereaux, Susie Brown, James Erwin, Mack King, Amanda Curley, Fannie Reynolds, and Susie Brown (December 5, 1877). On February 27, 1878, she described the Bowen Mansion, hired for use by the school board, and the death of a friend and fellow teacher. Flora's letters of 1879 and 1880 include discussions of Addie's desire to return to her family in Savannah and her progress in school, a shipboard injury sustained by Flora's father, oppressive heat in Savannah, the death of student Lynch Ingliss, teachers' wages, a Centennial Day celebration, class issues, and the health and sickness of Professor Cole's children.
Flora Lowe sent two letters from the Carlisle Indian School in the spring of 1888. In them, she wrote of the death of Basil, a 13-year old Apache boy, a visit by a band of San Carlos Apache chiefs, her exasperation with rebellious and "incorrigible" students, and an upcoming trip to England for her health. Two letters from 1890 describe work at the Oakland Institute for Presbyterian Learning, the unhelpful 23-year old matron, the music teacher who insists on teaching in her quarters rather than the music rooms, the sewing teacher who "murders the King's English," and health issues. Two of the remaining letters pertain to the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia, and the remainder are personal letters from New England.