The Henry J. McCance notebook chronicles the Irish businessman's tour of France (1849), business affairs in Belfast (1850-1851), and journey to New York City (1851). An inscription in the front of the volume, dated August 1, 1849, reads, "Note Book of sayings & doings & General Memoranda." McCance first discussed his visit to Tours, France, where he saw President Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, whom he described (August 1, 1849), and also commented on his tour of the Colonie de Mettray, a juvenile prison (August 30, 1849). Additionally, he wrote out several recipes (September 3, 1849), though he made few entries the rest of the year. By January 1851, he had returned to Belfast, where he made observations on the textile industry, particularly in relation to the production of flax (January 3, 1851), and discussed business matters. On June 29, 1851, he embarked for the United States onboard the Africa . The remainder of the journal concerns his time sightseeing and working in and around New York City. Though he required time to adapt to local mannerisms, he enjoyed the Fourth of July celebrations (July 4, 1851) and visited sights around the city, including a rejuvenated neighborhood formerly known as a hotbed of crime (July 12, 1851). By late summer, he began to long for Ireland. On September 8, Henry expressed his desire to go home, and arranged for passage to Ireland. Two days later, he was convinced by others to seek business opportunities in the South, and he gave up his berth on the City of Glasgow (September 11, 1851). Henry’s entries in the notebook end abruptly on September 29, 1851.
The journal contains a pencil sketch of a man with a pickaxe (August 30, 1849), and a brief poem, signed H.J. McC., written in the back of the volume, November 17, 1849.