The collection comprises the personal papers of Lord Edward Cavendish, politician and soldier, son of the 7th Duke of Devonshire, brother of the 8th Duke, and father of the 9th Duke.
There are 38 diaries of Lord Edward Cavendish, which begin in 1858 when he was 20, and end in 1891, the year of his death.
The collection also contains over 400 pieces of Lord Edward's correspondence. Amongst the family correspondence are letters sent to Lord Edward by his father (William Cavendish, 7th Duke of Devonshire), his sister Lady Louisa Cavendish (later Lady Louisa Egerton), his brother Lord Frederick Cavendish, and his uncle, Lord George H. Cavendish. There are also some letters sent by Lord Edward to his son Lord Richard Cavendish.
There is a small quantity of financial correspondence, including letters concerning shares and settlements, rents, and Lord Edward's role as a Trustee. There is also some personal correspondence which includes: letters and resolutions of condolence sent to Lord Edward on the death of his brother, Lord Frederick Cavendish, who was murdered in Phoenix Park, Dublin, in 1882; letters concerning an illness suffered by his brother Spencer Compton Cavendish, Lord Hartington; and letters from other acquaintances, including Theodore Roosevelt Senior (relating to the American Civil War) and G.E. Marindin of Eton College. There is also a file of 13 letters sent to Lord Edward Cavendish by John Poyntz Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer, relating to Lord Edward's acceptance of the position of Private Secretary to Lord Spencer.
The collection includes some papers concerning the administration of Lord Edward Cavendish's estate, as well as a small quantity of general papers, including: items relating to his funeral and a memorial fund; his passport; and some published material.
Finally there is a grouping of political papers: these are the papers of John Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, which are catalogued with Lord Edward Cavendish's papers because of Cavendish's role as Spencer's Private Secretary. These include papers concerning Resident Magistrates; a West Derbyshire Election Campaign poster for Lord Edward Cavendish; political soliciting cards; and draft speeches.
The covering dates of the collection extend beyond the date of Lord Edward Cavendish's death due to the inclusion of papers relating to the administration of his estate.