Most of the collection consists of correspondence, with the bulk falling during World Wars I and II. Early letters (1859-1860) are mainly to Thomas Hughes, Jr., from family and friends in Georgia, Arkansas, and South Carolina. Topics discussed center on agriculture, including cotton gin instructions; corn and pork prices in Arkansas; the price of crops, land, and slaves; and a report on the drought in Randolph County, Georgia. Also of interest are comments on shoemaking in Mars Bluff, S.C.
William Hughes's Civil War letters describe the activities of the 1st N.C. Cavalry Regiment, including its formation in August 1861 in Ridgeway, Warren County, N.C.; drilling at Camp Beauregard in Ridgeway; a November 26, 1861, skirmish at Manassas, Va.; and diet and life in the Army of the Potomac (1862). Other letters mention the 3rd Regiment of N.C. State Troops at Acquia Creek, Stafford County, Va. (1861) and wartime prices of staples in Georgia (1861). Information on the 2nd Brigade stationed near Kinston, N.C., includes their need for soap and clothing, their discontent, and fighting near New Bern, N.C. (1862). Activities mentioned at Fort Fisher, N.C., include the presence of anEnglish ship, the arrest of two women, the construction of two steamers, and the soldiers' diet (1862). A South Carolina volunteer discusses the First Battle of Bull Run, Manassas, Va. (1861).
Late nineteenth and early twentieth century letters discuss the advantages of buying inexpensive North Carolina peanuts rather than those from the Boston area (1876); agricultural activities at Mars Bluff, S.C. (1881); the use of convict labor on the Duck Town and Asheville Railroad (1883); and stock raising, agricultural prices, and a large sawmill in Bulgalusa, La. (1909). Agricultural news from New Hill, N.C., notes the price of tobacco (1915) and also includes information about revivals and the lumber business (1917).
World War I correspondence from Sergeant Julian Hughes, stationed at Camp Sevier, Greenville, S.C., describes the S. C. Engineering Company, spiritual influence of the Y.M.C.A., cursing among the soldiers, and leave procedures (1917). Quarantines at Camp Sevier for mumps, measles, and spinal meningitis are noted in 1917-1918. In letters from overseas, sanitation and high morale (1918); advice on donating money to the war effort (1918); diet, price of eggs, and destruction in France (1918) are topics of conversation. Private Tracy Hughes describes the children and camp life in France (1918).
On the homefront, civilians detail the changes in Richmond, Va., with the influx of soldiers (1918); citizens' reactions to a tank camp in Raleigh, N.C. (1918); epidemics of influenza in North Carolina and the closing of schools and other facilities (Oct.-Dec., 1918); armistice celebrations in Greensboro and Rocky Mount, N.C. (1918); and the reaction to airplanes in New Hill, N.C. (1919).
After the armistice, Julian Hughes describes armistice celebrations, service on the front line, battle locations, and the need for a diet change (1918); complaints about the weather and diet (1919); collecting "Jerry" souvenirs; and the price of firewood in France (1919). Tracy Hughes tells of the destruction in Verdun, France (1918), and of camp life there (1919).
A letter from Washington, D.C., details a Knight Templers sponsored Easter sunrise service at Arlington Cemetery, which President Herbert Hoover and the cabinet attended, and notes the death of Ohio Congressman Nicholas Longworth, son-in-law of former President Theodore Roosevelt (1931). Egg rolling at the White House and the blossoming of the cherry trees are described in 1933.
Several letters from students at East Carolina Teachers College in Greenville, N.C., are included (1936, 1943).
Most of the World War II correspondence is from Corporal Edwin Matthew (Matt) Grimsley and describes basic training at Kessler Field, Miss.; hospitalization of soldiers for minor complaints; participation in a movie production (1942); and USO shows/trips (1942, 1945), including music by girls from Hollywood and the Bob Crosby band. Three letters comment on gas rationing in North Carolina (April, 1943).
Letters (1942-1944) from Nurse 2nd Lieutenant Mattie Alma Hughes discuss the environment, natives, primitive housing, camp life, the Red Cross, and sorrow over injured soldiers in the Netherlands, East Indies. Other correspondence comments on the natives of North Africa.
Legal and financial papers are mostly from the Hughes, Grimsley, Taylor, Dail, Hicks, and Holliday families. Included are grants and deeds for land in Glasgow County (1793-1799), Greene County (1802-1896), and Dobbs County (1775-1790). A portion of these records are physically located in the oversized document file. Miscellaneous legal papers include teachers contracts (1939, 1944), a chattel mortgage (1885), and a legal dispute over chattel property (1884). Bills and receipts are dated from 1878 through 1919. Richard Grimsley's tobacco sales record book for 1949 (Snow Hill, N.C.) is included.
The photographs include mid to late nineteenth century portraits of the Hughes family and photographs of the Thomas Hughes, Jr., home near Snow Hill, N.C. An 1890s photograph is of the Grimsley house in Greene County. World War I photographs are mostly of Julian Hughes and his relatives, probably visiting at Camp Sevier, Greenville, S.C. World War II photographs presumably are of Edwin Matthew Grimsley in New Mexico in 1942.
Hughes--Grimsley genealogical information is included. A miscellaneous folder consists in part of an 1870 militia appointment; school report cards for Farmville High School, Snow Hill School, and East Carolina Teachers College (1891-1933); Edwin Matthew Grimsley's military certificates; and information on Mount Herman United Methodist Church in Greene Co., N.C. Various advertisements include an 1880 advertisement for Mrs. J. D. Grimsley's Millinery and Fancy Dry Goods Store in Snow Hill, N.C.