There is important biographical and autobiographical material, records of Elton's expeditions, fieldwork and surveys including photographs, his natural history notebooks, and correspondence.
Section A, Biographical and autobiographical, brings together records of Elton's career, honours and awards, publications, family letters, and the autobiographical writings of his later years and the material he assembled in connection with this activity. Amongst this assembled material are records relating to the Bureau of Animal Population, Elton's university teaching and his work for the Nature Conservancy.
Section B, Notebooks, presents a sequence of natural history notebooks which Elton kept for a period of over seventy years, 1914-1987. There are also two 'precis' notebooks from the 1920s used for notes on the literature, meetings of scientific societies, miscellaneous information and ideas, and the 'Corpus Christi Garden Book' which Elton kept, 1938-1945, during his Garden Mastership of the College.
Section C, Expeditions, presents records, principally diaries and photographs, of the four Arctic expeditions, 1921-1930, three visits to the Mols laboratory and nature reserve, Femmoller, Denmark, 1953-1962, and four visits to tropical America, 1965-1973. In respect of the 1921 Spitsbergen expedition, for which no contemporary diary of Elton's survives, Elton prepared, 1978-1983, a general account with photographs, in three volumes (ring-binders), specifically with archival deposit in mind.
Section D, Fieldwork and surveys, presents records of an ecological survey at Leckford, Hampshire, 1938-1939, and of ash bark beetle (Hylesinus fraxini) research carried out in Wytham Woods, Oxfordshire and at the Bureau of Animal Population, Oxford, 1948-1964. There are also seven photograph albums covering a wide range of locations and habitats including Leckford, Wytham Woods and Nature Conservancy areas, 1927-1963.
Section E, Correspondence, includes a small number of substantial exchanges with colleagues who began their research careers with Elton in Oxford, notably R.S. Miller, 1951-1989, and C. Overgaard Nielsen, 1952-1967. The exchange with P.W. Crowcroft, 1980-1990, is less substantial but relates to Crowcroft's history of the Bureau of Animal Population, Elton's Ecologists (Chicago University Press, 1991). Also of interest is Elton's correspondence with the Russian ecologist N.I. Kalabukhov and colleagues with whom he established contact in connection with the later work on the ecology of the tropical rainforest.