This collection is made up of 10 personal letters that Samuel Abbot Smith received from friends and family members while attending Phillips Exeter Academy, Harvard College, and Harvard Divinity School in the mid-1800s. The first letter, written by Horatio H. Whitten of "Great Falls," mentions Whitten's new schoolteacher and local factories (November 6, 1843). The letter includes a small drawing of a face in profile.
Samuel Abbot Smith's grandfather, Abiel Abbot, and his "Aunt Abby" wrote 5 letters to Smith from Peterborough, New Hampshire, between October 15, 1844, and January 9, 1853. They provided news of their lives and of family members' and friends' health and activities. Abby referred to social groups, her religious activities, Smith's education, and, on one occasion, fashionable summer coats (May 25, 1846). Abiel Abbot advised his grandson to read Roman history and take courses in elocution. He also provided suggestions for his grandson's salutatory address and discussed Samuel's mother's finances. In one letter, he shared his distaste for political mass meetings (October 15, 1844). Abiel and Abby's final letter encloses a German-language letter from Marie A. Peabody to Samuel Abbot Smith.
Smith received 2 letters from "Mother," likely his father's second wife and widow, Elizabeth Dow, on September 10, 1848, and July 9, 1849. Writing from Exeter, New Hampshire, she noted the recent anniversary of her husband's death; mentioned her attendance at a lecture by "Bushnell" that touched on Calvinism and other tops; and discussed her plans to travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for her son's graduation from Harvard College. She shared a story of an acquaintance who had served in the Mexican War and reported that the man desired a Canadian revolution so he could earn a commission as captain in a New York militia company.
Smith's final correspondent, Julius Crone, wrote twice from Peterborough, New Hampshire, on October 6, 1850, and February 21, 1851. He discussed his work, local news, a meeting of a social group (the "R. C."), and his envy for Smith, who was associated with "amiable scholars" such as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He expressed his concern for Smith's health and his desire that Smith could continue his studies despite his ailments.