University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The items in the Digital Collections of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign Library contain materials which represent or depict sensitive topics or were written from perspectives using outdated or biased language. The Library condemns discrimination and hatred on any grounds. As a research library that supports the mission and values of this land grant institution, it is incumbent upon the University Library to preserve, describe, and provide access to materials to accurately document our past, support learning about it, and effect change in the present. In accordance with the American Library Association’s Freedom to Read statement, we do not censor our materials or prevent patrons from accessing them.

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Jay Montgomery Hurd Memoirs (Digitized Content)

The digitized content of the Jay Montgomery Hurd Memoirs consists of the autobiographical writings of Jay Montgomery Hurd, titled “A Few Incidents in the Life of a Sexagenarian.” The memoirs describe Hurd’s life story from 1809 to 1874.

Jay Montgomery Hurd held many jobs in his lifetime; his first position was helping newly freed slaves settle in Illinois. He later became a constable, farmer, storekeeper and politician. Hurd helped to establish Jersey County, Illinois, and served as a judge in Jerseyville from 1847-1869. During this time he became known by prominent politicians such as Stephen A. Douglas. Hurd moved from Greene County to Christian County in 1858, and then to Johnson City, Nebraska, in 1872.

The digitized content contains the handwritten memoirs of Jay Montgomery Hurd, written in 1874. In his memoirs Hurd described politics, travel to the East Coast, and farming operations, as they evolved into mechanized processes during his lifetime. Hurd also mentioned abolition, religion, and frontier life, among other topics. Although Hurd lived through the Civil War, it is rarely mentioned in his writing.

The Illinois History and Lincoln Collections unit at the University of Illinois Library manages the physical items of the Jay Montgomery Hurd Memoirs (MS 791). The collection was digitized in 2020. For more information, contact an archivist at