The majority of the collection is correspondence (1888-1911) addressed to the Tripp's daughter, Lida Tripp Parker. Earlier correspondence (1849-1882) mainly contains premarital love letters between William and Araminta and Civil War letters.
Pre-Civil War correspondence includes a description of a vacation to Nags Head, N.C. (1849), the difficulty of electing a N.C. Senator, and the passing of "free suffrage" by the House of Commons and the likelihood of its passing the Senate (November 1852).
Civil War correspondence includes a letter to William Tripp (August 9, 1861) from Macon Bonner, Washington, N.C., discussing the possibility of forming two companies from Beaufort County (for the Confederate forces). Later correspondence (July 28, 1864) from Tripp at Fort Holmes to his wife notes the age requirements for soldiers set by the Confederate government, elections for N.C. governor and senator held within the unit, a Yankee defeat at Swisher's Gap, and Union General Grant's rumored death. In the same letter he also writes about Confederate General Hood's reluctance to vacate Atlanta and mentions illness in his camp. Tripp writes from Branchville, S.C. (November 1864), that three units--the 40th (3rd N.C. Artillery) and 36th (2nd N.C. Artillery) Regiments N.C. State Troops and Young's Battalion (the 10th Battalion N.C. Heavy Artillery), all from the Wilmington, N.C., area--were en route to Augusta, Ga., to face Union General Sherman.
Much of the rest of the collection consists of family correspondence which discusses diseases and illnesses, fires, religion, temperance, death, the local economy, celebrations, entertainment, and transportation methods. Illnesses and diseases noted are bowel consumption (1890), rheumatism (1891), typhoid fever (1891), colds, consumption, diptheria (1890), colic (1891), sick stomach (1891), dizziness (1891), dropsy (1892), alcoholism (1892), hemorrhagic fever (1893), and neuritis (1909). Home remedies for many of these ailments are recommended.
Deaths by natural and unnatural causes are frequently mentioned. One letter (1888) tells of a Beaufort Co., N.C., woman shooting herself while two letters (November 17 and 26, 1891) mention the suicide of a man in Robersonville, N.C. Other letters discuss deaths caused by bad whiskey (April 16, 1891) and dropsy (February 17, 1892) and murders in Beaufort Co., N.C. (November 25, 1893).
The correspondence reveals a dependence upon railroads as a major transportation source. North Carolina correspondence briefly notes that trains may stop running between Washington and Hyde Co., N.C. (April 1890), convicts were constructing the railroad in Washington (Nov. 1891), and railroad accidents and dynamite explosions were prevalent in the Durham's Creek area (Nov. 1893). Correspondence from a nephew in Florida gives details of the death of Lida Parker's brother-in-law, a railroad employee, in a train accident (1909).
Other tragedies mentioned include a March 1890 fire in Aurora, N.C., which destroyed several stores, a bar, and the post office; and the burning of a gin (November 1891).
Religion is a common theme throughout the correspondence. Local ministers are referred to in many letters and a Bishop's impending visit to Washington, N.C., is mentioned in a November 1891 letter. Correspondence (1910) notes the gift of a lot to the Methodist Episcopal Church South, of Robersonville, for a parsonage. The temperance issue is heavily associated with the religious theme as seen in a description of barroom closings in Washington, N.C, and the conversion of people in Washington and Kinston, N.C. (Nov. 1889).
Celebrations such as May Day are described (June 1853) as are the more common activities of quilting (Dec. 1891) and taking snuff (1891). A barbeque at Johnsons Mills (Pitt Co.?) the day before putting up tobacco and the process of putting up tobacco also are described (Aug. 1892).
A miscellaneous folder includes a diary kept by Araminta Guilford Tripp (Feb. 7 - Oct. 3 1853); two handwritten pieces of sheet music; financial ledger pages (1858-1859) listing purchases made by William Tripp such as household items, food, medicine, fabric and farm implements; poetry writen by Arabella C. Guilford (1870s) and others; and a letter from Santa Claus (undated). The diary describes Araminta's first night in her new home, the first months of marriage, a visit to see her parents atMars Hill, gardening, the importance of music in her home (especially the fiddle and the piano), and attendence by her husband at a temperance meeting.
A final folder contains invitations to weddings, dances, and commencements (1889-1910).