Rather than providing complete documentation of the lives and work of David Nelson Beach and Harlan Page Beach, the papers of this collection highlight certain aspects of their lives while leaving others untouched. The college years at Yale of both David and Harlan are well documented through letters and diaries. David's career as a prominent Congregational clergyman is traced through correspondence and newspaper clippings up until the year 1903, when he became president of Bangor Theological Seminary. Regular letters to family members document the period when Harlan and his wife Lucy were missionaries in China. Extensive information regarding Beach family relationships and history is available in the collection.
The larger portion of the papers in this collection are related to David Nelson Beach, with only several folders of family correspondence and one item of general correspondence relating to Harlan. Harlan's work as a professor of missions at Yale is touched upon only in a bound volume of letters from former students. No material related to David's work as president of Bangor Theological Seminary is available in this collection.
The first series, Correspondence dates from 1863 to 1961 and is divided into Family Correspondence and General Correspondence. The General Correspondence of David Nelson Beach documents his connection with the Liberal Congress of Religion and the American Anti-Saloon League and includes letters from Henry Cabot Lodge, Charles F. Thwing and Henry Clay Trumbull.
The Diaries and Journals of Series II date from the Beaches' student days, 1862 to 1876, and from a trip to Europe taken by David in 1885.
The writings of David Nelson Beach in Series III date from 1862 to 1909 and include many compositions and poems written while a student. The series also contains two items related to mission work which were written by Harlan Page Beach, and one essay related to Congregationalism which was written by David Nelson Beach, Jr. in 1957.
The Personal Items and Memorabilia of Series IV date from 1858 to 1919. The series contains primarily biographical material relating to David Nelson Beach, newspaper clippings, printed material, school reports and so forth. Reviews and correspondence related to his published writings are also in this series.
The Photographs of Series V include one folder of portraits of David and Harlan and several folders of photographs from the travels of Harlan and his wife in Africa, India and the Far East.