The papers in this series are as varied as the career of their creator. Spanning the years 1860 to about 1890, they document Jones' experiences as an educator, lecturer, journalist, and poet. While they illustrate many phases of his life, the papers contain little personal correspondence and scanty biographical information. Perhaps most revealing are two ledger volumes of Jones' poetry and essays, and a scrapbook.
The papers are arranged in chronological order based on Jones' career, beginning with biographical information. Many of the individual items in the papers had been identified or annotated by Jones. One folder contains Lydia Jones Trowbridge's correspondence with J. Seymour Currey of the Evanston Historical Society, William A. Dyche of Northwestern, and the Library of Congress. These letters show Trowbridge's efforts to see her father's poems published and his contribution to Northwestern recognized, as well as her continuing work on the projected biography of her father.
Three letters, from John Dempster, Henry Bannister of the Garrett Biblical Institute, and Bishop Matthew Simpson, commend Jones's efforts to initiate a Ladies Educational Aid Fund. Bannister's letter is addressed to E.O. Haven, who was later to become president of Northwestern University.
Folders of materials relating to phases of Jones' career in China contain appointment letters and a few examples of official transactions.
Jones's participation on the Committee for an American College in China is documented by records including U.S. government publications, giving the historical background of the Chinese Indemnity Fund; correspondence among members of the Committee, including Morse, Seward, and Cooper; and bills presented to the U.S. Congress in both manuscript and printed form.
Records of Jones's ventures into education journalism for Chicago newspapers include correspondence, memoranda of plans for future educational departments, and newspaper clippings.
Jones's writings include draft and published lectures on China, and draft and published versions of his essays, articles, and poetry. Some of the manuscript notes and drafts are accompanied by typed transcriptions, usually prepared by Lydia Trowbridge. Jones's “A Plea for the Better Education of Women” is represented by a draft (Box 1 Folder 18) and by a more polished version in the ledger entitled “A Few Miscellaneous Writings” (Box 2 Folder 2). The writings in the two ledger volumes appear to be final versions, probably not in Jones's hand, although there is some pencil annotation.
A final folder contains two pamphlets, not written by Jones, describing trips within China. One of these, Notes of an Excursion from Canton up the West River into the Province of Kwang-Si, is heavily annotated in pencil, probably by Jones.
One dropfront box holds two scrapbooks, one filled with clippings and ephemera describing Jones' life and career, and the other a commonplace book containing clippings of interest to Jones. The first scrapbook, which may have been prepared by someone other than Jones, serves as a documentary biography and a record of Jones' published writings. It includes clippings reporting on the Northwestern Female College and the Evanston College for Ladies, on Jones' China lectures, and on other events in his life; announcements and programs relating to the Northwestern Female College; and copies of those poems published in newspapers. The commonplace-book clippings, dating from 1860 to 1885 and consisting mostly of poems and inspirational articles, range from a paragraph to several columns in length.
Large documents include a passport signed by William H. Seward, a Letter Patent signed by the King of Portugal acknowledging Jones' appointment at as Consul at Macao (with a later typed English translation), and Jones' appointment as vice consul at Amoy.
With one or two exceptions, the materials in this series are in excellent condition.