Collection consists principally of letters between Francis Alger, manager of the South Boston Iron Company. and his second wife, Lydia Smith Alger, her brother, John P. Knight, and her sister, Anna P. Smith. Alger's letters to his wife, written from Washington D.C., describe his trip by train, stopping overnight in New York and staying at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, his arrival in Washington and at the Willard Hotel, social visits, meetings with government officials, politicians, and military leaders (Including Gen. McClellan) in pursuit of orders for guns and ammunition or bill payment, and conclude with expressions of affection for her and the children. Alger, who took over management of the South Boston Iron Company in 1856 upon the death of his father, Cyrus Alger, was a notable collector of minerals, and kept a cabinet of minerals open for viewing at the foundry, and at his death possessed one of the finest collections of minerals in the country. Alger notes visits of important dignitaries (Edward Everett, T.J. Rodman) to the foundry to view the minerals and to witness guns being cast; the company was a major supplier of ordnance to the government. A divorcé, Alger married his second wife in 1858 and started a new family. Letters in the collection detail the sudden sickness and death of Lydia Alger at the Fifth Avenue Hotel, while returning home with her husband and sister from a trip to Washington in March, 1863, and the care given by Anna P. Smith to the two young children afterwards. There are family letters offering condolences for the loss. The last letter in the collection was written by Anna Smith to Francis Alger in Washington, where he took sick and died in November, 1863. The collection provides a perspective on the Civil War (and the Civil War in Boston) from a civilian well-connected with the government.