Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Henry J. McCance Notebook, 1849-1851

Finding aid created by
Kay Miller and Meg Hixon, August 2011

Summary Information
Title: Henry J. McCance notebook
Creator: McCance, Henry J., b. ca. 1811
Inclusive dates: 1849-1851
Extent: 1 volume
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). He noted specific events and sights from his travels and described the textile industry of the mid-19th century.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1999. M-4041.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Henry J. McCance Notebook, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Henry J. McCance was born around 1811, and worked as a businessman in Belfast, Ireland. In the summer of 1849, he traveled to France with some acquaintances. Upon his return to Belfast, he became involved in the local textile industry. In 1851, he accompanied his friend David Douglas to New York City, arriving in June onboard the Africa .

Collection Scope and Content Note

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.

Subject Terms

    • Belfast (Northern Ireland)
    • France--Description and travel.
    • Napoleon III, Emperor of the French, 1808-1873.
    • New York (N.Y.)--Description and travel.
    • New York (N.Y.)--History--1775-1865.
    • Textile industry--History.
    • Tours (France)--Description and travel.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    • Poems.
    • Sketches.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Henry J. McCance notebook,  1849-1851 [series]