The Ethan Allen Andrews Family Papers consist of one manuscript box containing over two hundred letters, one bound volume, a register of births and deaths, and a printed leaflet.
All but two of the letters were addressed to Horace Andrews (1819-1901; Yale, 1841) by his father and mother, Ethan Allen Andrews and Lucy (Cowles) Andrews, with occasional postscripts by his brothers and sisters. They are arranged chronologically, extending from 1837, when Horace was planning to matriculate at Yale, to 1852, shortly after he had moved his legal practive from New Haven to New York, and many of the gaps correspond with his visits to the family. The majority of the letters were written from Walnut Grove, but some were sent from Boston during the terms of his father's teaching there. There is also a letter that Ethan Allen Andrews wrote to his father shortly after he began his studies at Yale. A register of family births and deaths can be found at the beginning of the first folder.
Most of the letters, but especially those of Lucy (Cowles) Andrews, deal with domestic matters - offering advice, expressing affection, reporting family and neighborhood news. The central theme between 1827 and 1841 was Horace's college career. His father was concerned that he maintain good habits in study, prayer, and exercise; his mother, that he be sure of her devotion and feel free to call on her and his sisters for anything he might require. His father paid for his education with some difficulty, and the entire family was deeply interested in his success.
A second major theme of Ethan Allen Andrews' letters is his scholarly activity. There are progress reports, comments on other works in the field, and accounts of negotiations with co-authors, publishers, and school superintendents. The record of his other activities is less detailed. A strong Union man, he preferred "whiggery in the large way, the whiggery of Clay and Crittenden and Webster" (1849 Mar 6); and his letters of the late 1840s and early 1850s comment occasionally on the condition of the party and of Union sentiment in Connecticut. In the same period he kept Horace informed about the progress of efforts to have the State Normal School built in New Britain and to secure rail connections with Hartford, New Haven, and Middletown, but he seldom specified his own contribution. Late in 1851 he travelled to Milledgeville, Georgia, to visit his daughter and son-in-law, Ann and William McKinley. His letters from their plantation, Beulah, describe the methods of agriculture, comment on the crudeness of the plantation house and grounds, and express surprise that his daughter could be content in such surroundings. While there he met a kinsman of his wife, a Mr. Williams of Farmington, Conn., who, he reported, (Dec 11), was travelling incognito because he was active in the Underground Railroad.
The remainder of the papers consist of three unrelated items. The text of the leaflet, "Report Respecting...Village Schools," was produced shortly after 1850 by the Committee of the First School District in New Britain; it recommends expansion and reorganization in the local system. The letter from the British classicist Sir William Smith is a polite justification of his criticisms of Ethan Allen Andrews' Latin-English Lexicon, probably made in the preface to his own Smaller Latin-English Dictionary (1855). Horace Andrews' "Life and Writings of Virgil," probably written in 1862, is a bound volume the first few pages of which conform to the title, but the bulk of the text is a set of annotations to the Aeneid.