The collection consists of business correspondence, plantation records, slave lists, military documents, accounting records, legal documents and Civil War letters of the Heyward and Ferguson families of the Combahee, Savannah, and Cooper Rivers in the Low Country near Charleston, South Carolina. The letters date between 1806 and 1923, but the bulk of the correspondence is from the antebellum period. Much of the collection is family correspondence between Nathaniel Heyward (1766-1851), his wife Henrietta Manigault Heyward (1769-1827), their sons Nathaniel Heyward (1790-1819) and William Manigault Heyward (1789-1820), and their grandsons James Barnwell Heyward (1817-1886), Nathaniel Barnwell Heyward (1816-1891) and William Henry Heyward (1817-1889).
The letters regard a variety of subjects, including rice cultivation along the Combahee and Savannah Rivers, land purchases, and travels in Europe. The collection also includes property records, including information on the sale and purchase of slaves, the plantation records for Myrtle Grove Plantation for 1848-1852, a list of slave names and numbers for Rotterdam, Hamburgh, Amsterdam, and Fife Plantations for 1852, and a list of items, such as blankets and tools, that were given to slaves. In addition to these records, the correspondence includes contracts and correspondence belonging to Thomas B. Ferguson (1841-1922). This portion of the collection contains contracts with overseers, tenants, and freedmen. It also includes correspondence concerning Dean Hall and Dockon Plantations near the Cooper River. A portion of the collection consists of Civil War letters concerning the death of Nathaniel Augustus Heyward in 1862 at the Second Battle of Manassas, and the Confederate service of Francis William Heyward (1844-1907), Thomas B. Ferguson (1841-1922), and Samuel Wragg Ferguson (1834-1917), Confederate general and aide-de-camp to General Beauregard.