About the Diary

John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) began keeping his diary at age 12. In its early years the diary served principally as a travel journal. As Adams matured, his entries grew longer and began to include reflections about the people and events he encountered. By the time he entered public service, his diary had evolved into a daily record of his public and private life.

Begun on 12 November 1779, Adams’s diary encompassed over 15,000 pages by the time the final entries were penned before his death in 1848. The resulting 51 diary volumes comprise the longest continuous record of any American of the time and provide rich insights into the social and cultural transformations from the late 18th to the mid 19th centuries.

The John Quincy Adams Digital Diary, a publication of the Adams Papers editorial project at the Massachusetts Historical Society, makes available for the first time verified and searchable transcriptions of the entire diary alongside manuscript page images.

About John Quincy Adams

John Quincy Adams was the oldest son of John and Abigail Adams of Massachusetts. His distinguished career in public service spanned six decades and included roles as diplomat, secretary of state, president, and congressman.

Learn more about John Quincy Adams by reading his brief biography or a more detailed chronology of his life.

Contributors & Credits


  • Neal Millikan
  • Sara Martin
  • C. James Taylor
  • Karen Barzilay
  • Susan Martin
  • Molly Nebiolo

With thanks for the assistance of current Adams Papers staff

  • Rhonda Barlow
  • Gwen Fries
  • Sara Georgini
  • Sarah Hume
  • Miriam Liebman
  • Molly Mullin
  • Hobson Woodward

Project efforts have been advanced by the valuable contributions of former Adams Papers staff and interns and the dedication of many volunteers:

Sophia Alessandri, Anthony M. Amore, Mary Quine Auerbach, Adam Berk, Nancy Bertrand, Perry Blatz, Kelsey Brow, Jeff DeToro, Ronnie Dooley, Josh Feigenbaum, Joan Fink, Katie Finnegan, Christina Gaebel, Kaz Gebhardt, Timothy Giblin, Doug Girardot, Michael Lynn Griffin, Christopher Hall, Kenna Hohmann, Lauren Howard, Robert Huberty, Alison M. Kiernan, Jessica Leeper, Alyssa Machajewski, Cliona McCarry, Scott R. McKinley, Amanda Norton, Joan Quigley, Margot Rashba, Laura Richards, Emily Ross, Grace Stillwell, Peyton Tvrdy, Lucy Wickstrom, Emily Wieder, Mary K. Wigge, L. J. Woolcock, and others.