Fonds contains records created and collected primarily by Alexander H. Leighton, with some by Jane Leighton Murphy. Documents span from Leighton's studies at Princeton, Cambridge, and Johns Hopkins univerities, through his government employment in World War II, and his teaching career at Cornell, Dalhousie, and Harvard. The majority of records are related to the 1961 Cornell-Aro Mental Health Research Project and the 1963 Study on the Role of Women, both based in Nigeria, and the Stirling County Study, based in Nova Scotia. Record types include correspondence, manuscripts, grant applications, reports, photographs and slides, medical and academic records, method and guidebooks, reviews, offprints and publications, teaching and course materials, and surveys and interview transcripts.
A sous-fonds contains records documenting the migration of Alexander Leighton's parents from Ireland to the United States and their subsequent life in Philadelphia. The sous-fonds contains extensive correspondence between extended family members over the course of a century, as well as photographs, diaries, wills, family trees, memoirs, and Alexander Leighton's personal correspondence.