Series I: Pre-Professional, c. 1865, 1871-1877, 1884-1886 holds materials produced by Dr. Colby during her high school and college years. Included among these materials are essays and notebooks retained by Dr. Colby from her time at Ann Arbor High School. The content of these essays and notebooks varies from item to item, and reflects the eclectic curriculum which characterizes high school education. The materials in this series pertaining to Dr. Colby's college career consist primarily of notebooks, essays, and exams she produced while both an undergraduate and graduate student at the University of Michigan. Like those of her high school years, these college materials cover a broad range of academic subjects--from literature and rhetoric, to science, language, and philosophy.
Series II: Professional, 1872, 1881, 1892-1931, 1935, 1940 possesses materials generated by Dr. Colby during her nearly forty-year career as a professor of literature at Illinois State Normal University. Included are various manuscripts, poems, teaching notes, pamphlets, misc. writings, and tributes. A preponderance of Dr. Colby's professional materials consist of manuscripts relating to a number of subjects, though many of these items deal with the function of literature in societal and institutional milieus, e.g. elementary and high schools, as well as libraries. In addition to these materials, several of the manuscripts contained in series II bear relation to Dr. Colby's published works. Her work on the subject of Sir Walter Scott's novel Quentin Durward is especially well-represented among the manuscripts comprising Series II.
Series III: Photographs, undated is comprised of photographs of Dr. Colby and her family, as well as tin types of her family. These items span decades, and depict Dr. Colby at various stages of her life.
Series IV: Ephemera, 1887, 1906-1907, 1912 holds ephemera including newspaper clippings, drawings, programs, and notecards.
Series V: Correspondence, 1896 contains miscellaneous correspondence between Dr. Colby and various parties. Among these assorted letters, etc. are several items which Dr. Colby received from notable individuals over the course of her professional career.