The collection is dominated by accounts recording expenditure and the earnings of individuals ortheir rural businesses. These accounts provide a useful primary source for studying the costs offarm produce, machinery and labour during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. The collection alsocontains personal memoranda books (diaries) that were kept in the 18th century by Jonathan Ash, afarmer in Ireland and Rev. Seth Ellis Stevenson, a rector and headmaster of Retford,Nottinghamshire.
The collection is defined by the subject matter of nine smaller collections which all in some wayconcern farming or rural life of the East Midlands (with the exception of one item which has anIrish provenance, Fr 74). Although some of these smaller collections include significant entriesabout individual farmers or the business of particular farms, the majority represent only a singlevolume or a few documents. The value for research of these smaller collections is increased by theirassociation with other records of a similar type.