The collection is comprised of papers and photographs relating to Mura Bayly's travels in Indonesia and the Pacific islands. Photographs including prints and lantern slides document daily life, arts, architecture, ceremonies, and various events of Javanese, Fijian, Samoan, Maori, and other people. Some photographs were made by professional photographers, including O. Kurkdjian studio, Carli Studio, Josiah Martin, and other photographers in the region. Bayly's papers include handwritten notes for her illustrated lectures, a typed manuscript for a story titled "Peter goes to Java," a journal kept during her time in Java, and an autograph album containing signatures and seals acquired during her travels.
Mura Bayly was born in South Africa and educated in England, France, Germany, and Austria. In the 1910s Bayly traveled throughout Indonesia and the Pacific islands, pursuing ethnological interests. She became well known in New York as a lecturer on Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, and the Pacific islands, and in 1911, when she was about 25 years old, she was elected as a fellow of the American Geographical Society. Bayly published stories of her travels in American, European, and other periodicals, and she designed her own silk clothing. During her travels Bayly collected skeins of silk fibers and her trips may have focused on clothing design and the acquisition of textiles.