This collection contains correspondence and papers documenting the life and career of Jonathan Baldwin Turner. Correspondents include Ezra Cornell, Stephen A. Douglas, Frederick Douglass, Augustus C. French, John A. Logan, Owen Lovejoy, Justin S. Morrill, Charles Sumner, Henry P. Tappan, Lyman Trumbull, Richard Yates, and the first two regents of the University of Illinois, John M. Gregory and Selim Peabody. The collection also includes legislative bills and committee reports, circulars, sermons and lectures, subscription lists, and newspaper clippings dealing with Turner's involvement with the Illinois Industrial University. In addition, the collection includes deeds, abstracts, compositions and notes from Turner's time as a student at Yale, and two patents issued to Turner (one for a seeding machine and another for a clod breaker).
The Library acquired the collection in two parts. Mary Turner Carriel, daughter of Jonathan Baldwin Turner, apparently donated some materials to the Library in 1912. Her son, Rev. Charles A. Carriel, donated the remainder of the collection in 1939.