The collection consists of 25 diaries (5500 pages) written by Charles Everett Adams between 1874 and 1940. They provide a highly descriptive account of his life from age 11 to age 77, with the exception of the missing diaries of his 13 trips to Europe. The diary entries record Adam's daily activities invariably starting with a report of the weather and including his exercise; what he read, bought, and sold; people encountered; and deaths in his home town. At times he compulsively kept track of the ambient temperatures, sometimes three times a day, and of the books he read and the number of pages for each.
Of particular interest is the impact of the automobile, phonograph and radio upon Adam's life. His first automobile trip was in 1907, which he found wearing and dizzying. In 1912 he bought his own car, and by 1920 he owned two cars and his wife Carrie learned how to drive. In 1923 a phonograph entered the Adams' household and became a regular part of their evening activities until it was replaced with a radio.
The nine notebooks contain school notes, quotations, gymnastics routines, and a register of guests at summer camp. The collection also contains a report of the 50th reunion of his Bowdoin class of 1884, which graduated 25 out of a freshman class of 44. The report contains biographies of the entire class of 1884.