A content part is a set of separate functionalities and data that can be applied to a content type by attaching the content part to a content type. Content parts may not store any corresponding data (in this case, they only add functionality by using existing data) in the database or they can even load data from an external data source (like a webservice). Content fields can be attached to content parts (for the differences between parts and fields, see the fields article).
If your content part stores data in the database, usually it's mapped to a record class (the corresponding content part record), which is an actual representation of the data you are storing in the database. In most cases, content parts derive from
ContentPart<TRecord> (where the type parameter is your content part record class), but if the part isn't storing anything in a corresponding record then it can just derive from
This page and many others here are part of the open-source, portable package of Orchard 1.x goodies: the Orchard Dojo Library for Orchard 1.x. The Library is freely accessible by anyone; just go to its repository to download its full content (you can even download the textual content of the Library as a big concatenated document in HTML), file issues or fork it! You can even edit it online on Bitbucket, just click on the Edit link in the upper right corner!
Note that the Library also has an Orchard Core version, check it out here!