The papers consist of correspondence and documents of David Webb Hodgkins with a few letters from other family members. While spanning from 1820 to 1898, the bulk of the material dates from 1858-1870.
The correspondence is largely made up of Hodgkins's letters to his father in Maine. It commences with his arrival in New York City in 1858 and continues, with gaps, up to about 1870. The letters are generally concerned with personal and family matters and contain little comment on contemporary events. One exception is Hodgkins's long letter of Dec. 29, 1864 to his father containing a daily account of the unsuccessful Union expedition to capture Fort Fisher outside Wilmington, N.C.
One anomaly is an 1820 autograph letter signed from Secretary of the Treasury William H. Crawford to James L. Wilson, "CC of Claims in the Senate," regarding the petition and other documents relating to the case of James L. Cathcart. There is no indication of how any of these figures are related to the Hodgkins family or how the letter came to be in these papers.
Other documents include Hodgkins's patient lists from his Civil War service; commonplace and handwriting books, undated but probably early 19th century; commissions as Medical Examiner and Justice of the Peace in Worcester County, Massachusetts; diaries; photographs; and Hodgkins's obituary in local newspapers.
A significant portion of the papers relates to Hodgkins's travels in Japan in the late 1880s where, according to his descendants, he served as private physician to an elderly but adventurous couple. Included are diaries, photographs, and assorted printed matter and ephemera.