The letters primarily are of a romantic and personal nature with occasional references to political, economic, and social matters of the day.
Miss Barlow and Col. Perry began their courtship in 1860 and renewed it at the close of the Civil War. Col. Perry's letters to Miss Barlow (1864, 1866-1868) are far more numerous than hers to him (1867-1868) and are more likely to contain allusions to events of general interest.
Perry comments on the economic hard times in the area (April 2 and 5,1867) and the poor cotton crop (April 26, June 9, July 9, 1867), reconstruction government in the state (August 18 and 30, September 1, 1867), the military rule of General Daniel E. Sickles (May 17, July 18, 1867), the political turmoil of the times, and the prospect of Negro rule (April 2, 1867). He calls Beaufort dull and unprogressive (April 13, 1867), "fast becoming a second rate fishtown" ; and he is not willing to invest in real estate there because of the uncertainty of the town's future (September 18, 1867). In response to the problems of sickness in the town, he gives a recipe for curing colds (December 21, 1867). Perry tells of the New England whalers who incurred the ire of the people of Beaufort by taking whales in the area (April 2 and 5, 1867). He comments on shipwrecks and the people of the Outer Banks called "wreckers" who make money by collecting and selling items washed ashore from stricken vessels (February 9, 1868).
Also included are references to the difficulty of making train connections between Beaufort and Tarboro (June 2, 1867), and disputes between older and younger members of a church congregation in Beaufort (April 2 and 7, 1867). Perry also describes a "colored" baptism ceremony, and comments on the blacks' "excitable temper" (April 2, 1867).
Of all the letters in the Barlow collection, only two are not correspondence between Barlow and Perry. One is a letter from Perry to Col. Thomas S. Kenan in Kenansville containing a humorous recipe for turtle soup (May 20, 1867). The other is a love letter from Samuel L. Chissom of Galveston, Texas, to Miss Barlow (July 7, 1867).
Included in the papers is a receipt for payment for dwelling repairs (1871) and a bill of sale for purchases at Mrs. M. E. Bond's store (1872) in Tarboro.