Samuel Bartley, a graduate of Delaware College (Ohio Wesleyan University) in Delaware, Ohio, taught school at Murphysboro, Ill., from 1858 to 1859, before becoming principal of a school in Ohio. In 1870 he moved to Edgewood, Ill., to continue working as a school principal. Bartley, an amateur botanist, later ran an experimental station on his farm for the College of Agriculture of the University of Illinois. These letters indicate that he was helpful in setting up the first guides on insect and botanical boundaries in Illinois. Correspondents include Thomas J. Burrill, Stephen A. Forbes, Robert Kennicott, I. A. Lapham, Cyrus Thomas, and George Vasey.
The collection contains photostats of letters which Anna Bartley Weaver loaned for copying to Walter B. Hendrickson of MacMurray College. Professor Hendrickson in turn gave the copies to the Library in 1968.