The collection is overwhelmingly concerned with the practice of law in Eastern North Carolina. Included are briefs covering a wide range of topics such as usury, property rights for women, malicious prosecution, forgery, and malfeasance in office.
Specific cases of interest are the suing of A.M.E. Zion Church by Emilene Tucker, a former teacher (1897); a suit against the owners of the steamship
SNOW HILL by D. Styron for back wages (1898); an arson case,
Hunter (1880), and the subsequent warrant for his arrest for the burning of the office of Register of Deeds; and cases involving the blocking of a highway from New Bern to Pollocksville (1882). Other legal items include a bill of sale for three Negroes (1830); correspondence relating to the sale of, power of attorney papers, and abstracts of the deed for the Carraway Gold Mine in Randolph County, North Carolina (1881); tenant farming contracts which include crops to be cultivated, items to be furnished, and final dividing of the yield; an affidavit to examine an insane person (1889); the will of Jesse Moore setting slaves free; and arguments and precedents relating to the validity of slaves' marriage. The remainder of the legal portion of this collection pertains to the collection of debts; land transactions in Jones, Onslow, and Craven counties; and other legal documents such as summonses, mortgages, promissory notes, and power of attorney papers.
Correspondence in the collection also reflects the nature of Clarke's law practice. Of particular interest are the efforts of Miss Jennie Bell, a Northern missionary, to establish a school for poor whites on Harker's Island (1867). Included in this particular group is correspondence dealing with the possibilities of combining this school with Graham Academy in Marshallberg, North Carolina, upon Miss Bell's death (1894). Significant legal correspondence consists of material related to the case of
Sheelky (1895), which includes a complete description and inventory for the Sheelky Planing Mill Plant in New Bern; efforts to establish the legality of French spoliation claims (1884); and testimonials, complaints, and possibilities of a suit involving the manufacturing of a new type of plow (1887). There is also some correspondence concerning the efforts of Clarke to set up a receivership for a Negro woman in Tarboro, North Carolina, who was being cheated out of her share of a business by a group of Negroes (1887).
Correspondence of a political nature comprises another portion of this collection. Republican chances in Eastern North Carolina in 1878 are discussed in connection with possible damage caused by the "Tarboro Affair" as well as the organization of the Independents in Craven County. Another letter describes the situation in Morehead City, North Carolina, where Democrats and Populists have joined together to secure a Postmaster position in the district (1897).
Other correspondence includes a description of Craven County before and after the Civil War and its effect on land values (1886); pension claims for the services of Captain William J. Clarke in the Mexican War; a description of life at Guilford College; and the observing of a comet (1910). There is also considerable correspondence dealing with land speculation and the possible profitability of the marl trade in Eastern North Carolina in the 1880's.
Financial papers include the receipts and outlay for a cotton farm (1886) and the records for the Croatan Farm of L. H. Banks (1888). Also included are tax receipts, a listing of traveling expenses to and from New York by schooner (1846-1847), freight charges for the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad company (1876), and general accounts from various stores and companies.
The miscellaneous group is comprised of newspaper clippings of a temperance speech by William Kitchen (1908), and various papers involving lodge activities.