This collection contains 40 letters and 1 document related to Michael Day, an English immigrant who lived in Lake County, Illinois, in the mid-1800s. Day wrote to his brother Francis in England, discussing life on the Illinois prairie and detailing his attempts to make his 40-acre farm profitable. He also shared his intention to purchase additional land, for which he required his brother's financial assistance. Several letters concern his unsuccessful attempts to purchase 77 adjacent acres of land in 1847, as well as other financial hardships he faced in establishing the farm.
Day provided insight on local farming practices and occasionally mentioned the impact of Midwestern grain harvests on his efforts. He shared information about crops and livestock he intended to raise, which included corn and sheep, and commented on the differences between prairie and brush (June 8, 1855). Despite a lengthy period of fiscal difficulty, Day became financially solvent and grew accustomed to life in the United States. In his last letter, dated July 16, 1877, Day reported that his sons William and Francis both worked for wages in the summer. Several letters include sketched maps of Day's holdings and bordering properties.
The collection also contains a contract between John Walker and William Day of Gloucester County, England, regarding tenancy on a rented farm near Rodmarton (November 30, 1803).