Correspondence in the collection consists of letters from Kinsey to his sister written from Trinity College before the war and from camp and prison after his enlistment. The Trinity letters reflect life and studies in college (1860-1861). Civil War correspondence contains comments on the poor leadership of his regiment, revival of home textile manufacturing, service in Pitt County and at Wilmington, and life in a federal prison. Kinsey pleads for letters from home, reports on prisoner exchanges, mentions his vegetable garden, comments on the 1864 presidential election, and records the deaths of fellow prisoners.
The diary, written from prison, gives a brief account of Kinsey's service before being captured near Charleston, S.C., in August of 1863. The bulk of the volume describes life in prison on Johnson's Island, including reports of prisoner escapes, weather conditions, deaths, morale problems, the availability of newspapers, Union propaganda, battle rumors, prisoner exchanges, and his train trip back to North Carolina after the surrender of General Lee. Also included for 1865 and 1866 are diary entries reflecting his return to school teaching in rural North Carolina and listing the students attending his school. Of particular interest near the end of the diary is a sketch written by Captain Simeon E. Hamilton of the Choctaw Cavalry. Hamilton, a prisoner with Kinsey at Johnson's Island, chastises whites for their attitude toward the Indians and describes the advanced living standards of the Choctaw people.
Newspaper clippings in the collection eulogize Kinsey and tell of his terminal illness and death.