The Sewell P. Barker journal (336 pages) concerns Barker's daily activities in northern New York between January 1, 1843, and September 21, 1845. Barker taught school in several towns near Rochester, New York, and frequently attended religious meetings and church services.
Barker dedicated his journal on January 3, 1843, by copying five "Rules of Life" attributed to Thomas Jefferson. Originally from Sweden, New York, Barker frequently traveled to and taught in towns such as Greece, Riga, Brockport, Churchville, Spencerport, and Chili, New York. He reported the subjects of sermons and other religious gatherings he attended, noted the days on which he taught school, and recorded the names of those with whom he boarded while traveling. Several entries from early 1843 refer to courses he attended at "the Institute" in Brockport, New York. On September 20, 1843, Barker went to Rochester, where he heard a speech by Martin Van Buren (p. 91). From April 1844-June 1844, he lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he worked for the firm Churchill & Co. He described his travels by stagecoach and steamboat and reflected on his separation from his wife, whom he had married on Thanksgiving Day 1843 (December 14, 1843, p. 124). While in Cincinnati, Barker attended services at several Methodist churches. Some entries include religious poetry. The final page (p. 336) has a note on the drowning death of Daniel Foster of Strattanville, Pennsylvania, on May 11, 1844.