Under the terms of his will (DFC/A/7/3) all the real and personal estate of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was to be divided equally between his brothers and sisters. The management of his literary estate, on behalf of the whole family, had by 1965 devolved into the hands of his great-nephew, Philip Dodgson Jaques.
The personal estate included what remained of his manuscripts and papers. The two-day sale of effects in Oxford on 3-4 May 1898 included few manuscripts, though some original drawings for the illustrations of the Alice books were sold, with 1st editions (described in DFC/A/7/7/1 and DFC/F/60/15). Before this many sacks of papers had been burnt by his executors, his brothers Wilfred and Edwin (DFC/A/7/4). The Collection thus contains no literary manuscripts and no early editions of the Alice books.
The Collection provides evidence of the disposal of other items. Some photographic plates were returned to the subjects by Miss F J Dodgson in 1900 (DFC/D/1). There are catalogues of the manuscripts of his literary works, including Juvenilia, sent for auction by the family and by Alice Hargreaves and others from 1928 onwards (described in DFC/H/3 and DFC/F/60/17/1).
From 1861, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson kept registers of all the letters he received and sent (he carefully numbered each letter). 24 of these registers were recalled by his nephew and biographer Stuart Collingwood. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson is known to have written over 100 000 letters during his lifetime, and the existence of a number of copy letters in the Dodgson Family Archive (DFC/A/29/1-8) implies that yet further series were from time to time maintained. The surviving evidence of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's correspondence, which he affectionately referred to as 'the Card Game of whist for two' (Zg/73), is considerably smaller. Morton Cohen tracked down a total of 4000 letters from round the world, of which 1,400 were mainly private, for his 2 volume edition of the complete letters.
The Collection includes very few letters from Charles Lutwidge Dodgson to members of the family, exceptions being a letter to a sister in 1854, announcing his first-class in mathematics (DFC/A/3/4), two letters to his aunt Lucy Lutwidge and two to his sister Louisa (DFC/A/28/1-4). There are also a few of his own drafts or copies for letters (DFC/A/29/1-8). Business letters include a series from Macmillans, 1877-1883 (DFC/A/36/1-20), and a few other business letters (DFC/A/32/1-5).
It is a mystery, though, what happened to entire volumes from the diary series which Lewis Carroll kept from about 1853. Stuart Collingwood used the volumes for his biography of Carroll published shortly after his uncle's death. However, it was later discovered that four volumes were missing. Within the surviving diaries, certain pages have been cut out: it is unknown whether this was done by Dodgson himself, or by one of his siblings after his death. DFC/F/17/- includes speculation by younger members of the family as to the contents of the missing pages.
Further autograph and original material of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's includes one word-puzzle in his own hand (DFC/A/16/3/1), his sketch book, with 8 drawings, most of little girls on the beach in 1874-1875 (DFC/A/22/1), and several of his own photographs (DFC/B/2/1-9).
There are some proofs of works, including the corrected galleys for articles in Nature Curiosa Mathematica (DFC/A/14/2), and a few pages of corrected proofs of Sylvie and Bruno (DFC/A/12/1-4). The first printed versions of several works other than the Alice books are present, some of them (eg DFC/A/11/1 and DFC/A/16/1) having been bought by F Menella Dodgson. There are several copies of the Wonderland Postage Stamp Case (DFC/A/17/4).
Family papers include a reading list and Sunday texts and prayers prepared for CL Dodgson as a child by his mother (DFC/A/1/1-3), and letters about him when at school and university (DFC/A/2 &3).
The graphic material includes photographs of Dodgson at various ages (DFC/B/1/1-10), some of other members of the family (DFC/B/5/1-27), a photograph of Dodgson's room at Christ Church (DFC/B/4/13-14), and two of The Chestnuts (DFC/B/4/20-21). There is a watercolour and a photograph of Croft Rectory (DFC/B/4/2-5).
As interest in Lewis Carroll developed, the family received many letters, and draft answers written by members of the family often contain information not found elsewhere. They were sent copies of the resulting works, and collected other material of various kinds. The "Carrolliana" is arranged under subjects in DFC/F. This part of the Collection also provides, in conjunction with the newspaper cuttings, evidence of the gradual development of interest in Lewis Carroll and his works.
Where possible anything that can be classed as a reminiscence of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson by a friend or a relation has been arranged in separate sections (DFC/C/6/1-4, DFC/D/1-2 and DFC/H/1-44).
The printed material, including newspaper cuttings, is of some interest. The family started to amass cuttings during Dodgson's lifetime, and for the Centenary year employed a newspaper cuttings agency. Many more were collected by members of the family up to 1982 (DFC/H/1-67), some being in albums. Parodies and advertisements and cartoons have been taken out of the main series of newspaper cuttings and included in the "Carrolliana" section (DFC/F/33/1-12).