Dr. Vine Utley compiled most of his Observations on Old People 80 Years of Age (87 pages) while interviewing octogenarians and older individuals in New London County, Connecticut, from September 9, 1809-June 17, 1818; one entry is dated April 15, 1827. Utley recorded biographical information about each person he interviewed, including their name, age, hometown or place of residence, marital status, occupation, previous illnesses and medical treatments, number of children, and sometimes their date of death. He commented on interviewees' habits and diets, particularly with regard to alcohol and tobacco, and on their parents' longevity.
Utley wrote about physical health and mental acuity, and noted some trends amongst his subjects, such as octogenarians' tendency to have few, if any, remaining teeth (p. 25). He interviewed men and women from Waterford, Lyme, and New London, Connecticut, including David Harris, a native of Paris who had been held captive by Native Americans (pp. 22-25); E. Jeffry, a Native American woman (pp. 30-33); Celia, a slave who had been born in Africa (pp. 60-62); and John Utley, his father (pp. 81-84). The volume's cover is a repurposed section of The Witness (June 25, 1806), a newspaper published in Litchfield, Connecticut.