These papers relate to Benjamin's biographical information project as a staff member of Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography. The contents consist mostly of questionnaires returned by subject, or correspondence with subjects or relatives and friends of subjects, along with newspaper articles, printed works, and obituaries. Also included are page proofs.
Persons for whom there is more than the minimum biographical information are: Alexander Graham Bell, John Shaw Billings, Charles Frederick Chandler, Edward Drinker Cope, Elliot Coues, Charles H. Davis (includes Henry Cabot Lodge letters to Benjamin), Clarence Edward Dutton, William Gilson Farlow, George Gibbs, Asa Gray, Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden, Samuel P. Langley, John LeConte, Elias Loomis, Edward Sylvester Morse, Simon Newcomb, and John Wesley Powell.
Apparently, these papers resulted from a biographical project begun by Benjamin in 1887. Some letters included by Benjamin's correspondents predate 1887. However, a few post-1891 items have been filed here by others than Benjamin. There is also some correspondence unrelated to the biographical information project pertaining to publications of articles and Smithsonian administration. Correspondents include Cleveland Abbe; Henry L. Abbot; Alexander Agassiz; John H. Alexander (Ref); Joel Asaph Allen; Alexander Dallas Bache (Ref); Spencer F. Baird; George Frederick Barker; John Gross Barnard; Alexander Graham Bell; Alexander Melville Bell; Marcus Benjamin; John Shaw Billings; William H. Brewer; William Keith Brooks; Alexis Caswell; Charles Frederick Chandler; William Chauvenet; James Henry Coffin (Ref); Cyrus Ballou Comstock; Josiah Parsons Cooke; Edward Drinker Cope; Elliott Coues; James Mason Craft; John Call Dalton (Ref); Edward Salisbury Dana; James Dwight Dana; George Davidson; Charles H. Davis (Ref); Henry Draper (Ref); John W. Draper; Clarence Edward Dutton; James Buchanan Eads; George Engelmann (Ref); William Gilson Farlow; William Ferrel; Robert Fletcher; John Fries Frazer (Ref); William More Gabb (Ref); Albert Gallatin (Ref); Frederick Augustus Genth; George Gibbs (Ref); Grove Karl Gilbert; Asa Gray; Arnold Henry Guyot; James Hadley; Samuel Stehman Haldeman (Ref); Asaph Hall; James Hall; Ferdinand Vandeveer Hayden; Joseph Henry (Ref); Eugene Woldemar Hilgard; Julius Eramus Hilgard; George William Hill; Henry Barker Hill; Edward Hitchcock; John Edwards Holbrook; Edward Singleton Holden; Joseph Stillman Hubbard; Andrew Atkinson Humphreys; Thomas Sterry Hunt; Charles Loring Jackson; Thomas Jefferson (Ref); Walter Rogers Johnson; Clarence King; Jonathan Homer Lane; Samuel P. Langley; John Lawrence Leconte; Joseph Leconte; Joseph Leidy; John Peter Lesley; Charles Leo Lesquereaux; Miers Fisher Longstreth; Elias Loomis; John Alden Loring; Joseph Lovering; Theodore Lyman; Frederick August Mahan (Ref); George Perkins Marsh (Ref); Othniel Charles Marsh; Alfred Marshall Mayer; Fielding Bradford Meek (Ref); Montgomery C. Meigs; Thomas Corwin Mendenhall; Henry Mitchell; Silas Weir Mitchell; Lewis Henry Morgan; Edward Sylvester Morse; Henry Morton; John Strong Newberry; Simon Newcomb; Hubert Anson Newton; John Newton; William Augustus Norton; James Edward Oliver; Alpheus Spring Packard; Benjamin Peirce (Ref); Charles Sanders Peirce; Christian Henry Frederick Peters (Ref); Edward Charles Pickering; Louis Francois De Pourtales; John Wesley Powell; Raphael Pumpelly; Frederick Ward Putnam; Charles Rau; William DeC. Ravenel; Ira Remsen; Fairman Rogers; Henry Darwin Rogers; James Blythe Rogers; Robert Empie Rogers; William Augustus Rogers; William Barton Rogers; Ogden Nicholas Rood; Henry Augustus Rowland; Lewis Morris Rutherford; Joseph Saxton (Ref); Charles Anthony Schott; Samuel H. Scudder; William Sellers; Benjamin Silliman; John Lawrence Smith; Sidney Irving Smith; Charles Wardwell Stiles; William Stimpson; Theodore Strong; William Starling Sullivant; John Torrey; Joseph Gilbert Totten; William Trelease; John Trowbridge; William Petit Trowbridge; James Hammond Trumbull; Edward Tuckerman; Addison Emory Verrill; Francis Amasa Walker; Gouveneur Kemble Warren; Josiah Dwight Whitney; William Dwight Whitney; Joseph Winlock; Horatio C. Wood; Amos Henry Worthen; Arthur William Wright; Jeffries Wyman; Charles Augustus Young.