In 1845, William R. Downs, a missionary of the American Home Missionary Society, moved to Illinois from New York, and established a ministry in Jefferson, McHenry Co.
Downs' diary covers two periods, Sep.-June 1845-46, and Feb.-Mar. 1847. In addition to describing his daily experiences, the diary includes drafts of one annual and three quarterly reports to the American Home Missionary Society. In his diary, Downs also gives statistics on population, exports, and agricultural products of the area, as well as notes and lists of his correspondence from 1854-55. The collection also contains a Greenwood Academy (Macoupin Co., Ill.) curriculum for 1851, which lists Downs as the academy's principal; an 1855 receipt to Julia H. Downs; and an envelope addressed to James M. Downs with notes about the fall of Richmond in 1865.
The Library purchased this diary in 1975.