This extensive and varied collection provides particularly rich source material for 18th and early 19th century social history. It covers family letters and papers domestic and scholarly, papers of their antecedents, notably the Conyers family, parliamentary elections, Co. Durham public affairs, estate management, business affairs, land in Co. Durham in various places, including Haswell, Pittington and Lanchester, the Boulby Alum Works near Saltburn on the North Yorkshire coast, estates in Westmorland near Brough, Appleby and Kirby Stephen, an estate at Stanton, Northumberland, coal and lead mining interests (including the Hetton Coal Co. and lead at Bulbeck, Northumberland), education at Eton and Cambridge, the Tyne Bank, stocks, shares, insurance, probate legal proceedings, deeds, Acts of Parliament, rentals, books of household, estate, wage, grain and employers accounts with vouchers, inventories of household, garden and farm gear and stock, maps, plans, stud books, travel accounts, military and militia matters, political and scandalous pamphlets and cartoons, animal pedigrees and prescriptions, recipe books, miscellaneous note books and printed books.
Apart from a few items, the collection begins towards the end of the life of George Baker (d. 1697). This is accompanied by a small amount of material relating to his brother Thomas Baker (1656-1737) the antiquary, of St John's College, Cambridge. The minority of George Baker (d. 1774) is well recorded, with accounts and letters detailing his expenses at Eton and Cambridge, and the frequent exasperations of his guardian. The meticulous account keeping of Judith Baker (1726-1810) make both the household accounts and the records of the Boulby Alum Works particularly full, providing a record both of life in the household of a country gentleman, and an early phase in the chemical industry of the North East. The improvements made to Elemore Hall by George Baker, his stud books and interest in 'improved' breeds of livestock and attempts to run a pack of hounds for hunting, the collections of scandalous pamphlets relating to the Countess of Strathmore and satirical political cartoons bought by his wife Judith, and accounts of the machinations surrounding parliamentary elections in Durham City in the 1760s are some of the features of this rich vein of social history. The nineteenth century material covers a period in which the family's sources of income change and in many cases decline.