This volume contains a 20-page daily account of the first leg of D. Coffin's voyage from New York City to California, covering the progress of the clipper ship Grecian between New York and Cape Horn in early 1852. The journal also includes 18 coastal profiles drawn in pencil during the voyage. A newspaper clipping at the beginning of the volume concerns the clipper ship Grecian 's arrival in San Francisco. It provides names of passengers, names of three people who died during the voyage, a list of goods shipped onboard, and names of consignees.
The journal begins on February 19, 1852. The following day, Coffin arrived in New York, where he purchased a ticket for the ship Grecian , which set sail on March 2. In his first entry, he detailed the ship's specifications, including its size and number of passengers. He kept a daily record of weather and events onboard and frequently mentioned his negative opinion of "immoral" passengers who enjoyed alcohol and gambling. Several of the entries concern medical problems, such as the death of passenger John Morrison from smallpox on March 12, the author's own bout with side and bowel pain, and several other cases of smallpox reported by the ship's doctor on March 21. Though many passengers suffered from illness, they were allowed to go onshore after the ship's arrival at Rio de Janeiro on April 12. Coffin wrote lengthy descriptions of the fort and the city, including its geographical surroundings and a visit by the emperor. On April 15, he reported on local markets and made brief observations about slaves. The Grecian departed Rio de Janeiro on April 19 and Coffin's continued to make daily entries until April 24.
Newspaper clippings, penmanship exercises, and children's sketches make up the rest of the volume. The first 42 pages have pasted-in newspaper clippings of proverbs, humorous anecdotes, informational articles, news articles, and poetry. The creator pasted the clippings over earlier, mostly inaccessible pen writing. Some of the clippings relate to farming, housekeeping, nature, and recent gold discoveries. Two of the articles are a report on a lecture given by Lucy Stone on women's rights, and a brief feature on an "Emancipation Movement in Virginia."
Penmanship exercises and notes (two dated 1862 & 1888), signatures, and children's sketches (three associated with Edna Jane Coffin) are scattered throughout the volume. A pencil sketch of a three-masted sailing ship was signed by Mathew Doyle.