Collection consists of an assortment of correspondence, fragments, and notes from Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle. Correspondents include Carlyle's secretary, Henry Larkin; John Fergusson; Thomas Murray; Basil Montagu; Bryan Waller Procter ("Barry Cornwall"); Henrietta Maria Stanley; Ralph Waldo Emerson; Thomas Erskine; Richard Owen; Frederic Chapman; William McCall; and John Reuben Thomas.
The collection consists primarily of the Correspondence Series, 1820-1927 and undated, between Thomas Carlyle, Jane Welsh Carlyle, and various other correspondents. Correspondents include Carlyle's secretary, Henry Larkin; John Fergusson; Thomas Murray; Basil Montagu; Bryan Waller Procter ("Barry Cornwall"); Thomas Erskine; Richard Owen; Frederic Chapman; William McCall; and John Reuben Thomas. Letters present not only a narrative of their own lives, but also provocative discussion of the ideas and events of their time, including the Peterloo Massacre of 1819, the coronation of Queen Victoria, the repeal of the Corn Laws, the Great Exhibition of 1851, the deaths of Sir Robert Peel and the Duke of Wellington, the Crimean War, and the rise of modern Germany. Also present are vivid references to the works and movements of noteworthy contemporaries such as Robert Browning, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Charles Dickens, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Ivan Turgenev, and others. Most of the letters are outgoing from the Carlyles; there is also one letter dated 1860 April 25 from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Thomas Carlyle, asking Carlyle to sit for a portrait. There is also an August 1863 letter from Carlyle likely directed to Virginia devine and abolitionist Moncure Conway, who travelled to London in 1863 armed with letters of introduction from Emerson, his mentor. There are several letters from Jane Welsh Carlyle to Henrietta Maria, Lady Stanley of Alderley, discussing day-to-day life with numerous references to her husband, Thomas Carlyle. Also included is a fragment of a letter from Thomas Carlyle to his wife containing reference to Lady Stanley's little boy.
The collection also includes miscellaneous correspondence, such as one letter to Charles Kingsley promising to help Kingsley get his book published; one letter to James Aitkin; one to Sir Richard Owen concerning inviting O. M. Mitchel (an American astronomer) to lecture on the Mississippi at Somerset House; one letter from Walter Savage Landor prior to Carlyle's only visit with Landor; one letter from Carlyle to London publisher [Frederic] Chapman referring to two manuscripts by Mr. Meccall; one letter from Carlyle to Boehm; and one letter from Carlyle to John Reuben Thompson, as well as several pieces to or from unidentified correspondents. Also includes a letter from Carlyle to D. B. Brightwick at Greenwood College regarding teaching virtue by example (includes published transcription).
The Scrapbook Series consists of a volume of clippings and annotations on Thomas Carlyle's life and works compiled by his biographer, David Alec Wilson.
The Writings Series consists of manuscript fragments of Thomas Carlyle's Shooting Niagara: And After? and his History of Frederich II of Prussia.
The Photographs Series contains a photograph showing part of the Carlyles' study and an autographed a cartes-de-visite of Thomas Carlyle.