University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Joseph Hand Papers (Digitized Content)

The digitized content of the Joseph Hand Papers consists of letters dating from 1843-1903 and a set of two broadsides from 1844-1845 relating to Joseph Hand, a farmer who immigrated to Illinois from England with his family in 1845. The correspondence, the bulk of which dates from the 1840s and 1850s, highlights the lives of the Hands both before and after they left England.

Joseph Hand was a farmer living in Yoxall, Staffordshire, England. In 1845, Hand sold his farm and set sail for America with his wife and six of their seven children. Hand's wife, Sarah Shipton Hand, died while the family was at sea. Upon arriving in Illinois, Hand purchased land at Paddock's Grove in Madison County, and soon expanded the farm across the county line into Bunker Hill in Macoupin County. After Joseph's death in 1860, his daughter Sarah A. Hand took over management of the family farm.

The digitized content contains correspondence, dating from both while the Hands were living in England and after their arrival in the United States. The collection illustrates the lives of rural English people, English politics and social conditions in the 1840s, and exchanges between family members in England and the United States. The digitized content also contains auctioneers' broadsides for the sale of the family's farm in Yoxall.

The Illinois History and Lincoln Collections unit at the University of Illinois Library manages the physical items of the Joseph Hand Papers (MS 688). The collection was partially digitized in 2013. For more information, contact an archivist at