The bulk of this collection consists of letters from Alice Howe Gibbens James to her sons Henry (1879-1947), a lawyer; and William (1882-1961), a portrait painter. Many of the letters discuss the family's two most famous members: Alice's husband, philosopher William James (1842-1910); and his brother, novelist Henry James (1843-1916). Most of her letters are written from her home in Cambridge (Mass.), or while traveling in Europe. Her involvement with the final months and estate of Henry James (1843-1916) in London is discussed at length. She was also in Stanford (Calif.) for the earthquake of 1906. The collection also includes partial or copied letters by philosopher William James (1842-1910): postscripts he added to letters from his wife to his sons; a copy of a letter to his third son, artist Alexander R. James; a partial courtship letter to his future wife; and a complete letter he dictated to his son William. Also included are letters addressed to William James. The novelist Henry James (1843-1916) is represented with letters he received from family members, 1901-1911. An 1866 letter by family patriarch Henry James (1811-1882) also appears in transcript form. A few non-family letters can also be found in the collection, most notably letters by Edwin B. Holt, James Jackson Putnam, and Sir Leslie Stephen. The compositions series includes a diary written by Daniel Lewis Gibbens (father of Alice Howe Gibbens James) as surgeon on board the ship Manhattan en route between New York City and Liverpool, 1859-1860.
Series "III. Photocopies of letters" consists of color-photocopies of letters. All are letters from William James (1842-1910) primarily to his son William James (1882-1961), and a few to his wife Alice and his other sons, Henry James (1879-1947) and Alexander Robertson James.