Series consists of 69 bound journals kept by Mackenzie from 1935 to 2005 (excluding the years of 1942-1943), ephemera and two schoolroom photographs that include Mackenzie. The majority of the diaries consist of accounts of daily events, particularly international wars, revolutions, political events; the activities of celebrities, statesmen and royalty; natural disasters; and cultural and social issues. These entries include minimal personal opinion and are formatted similar to newspaper articles. Events of particular relevance to Mackenzie are often embellished with marginal illustrations and rubrication.
Mackenzie also records more personal notes on his daily activities; his employment history, wages, housing and work environment; his socializing in taverns and cocktail bars; films and plays he attended; his efforts to improve his education; the progress of his various writing projects; the health and activities of himself, family members and friends; his relationships with other gay men; as well as detailed accounts of his travels abroad. He records important events and dates for other individuals, particularly his parents, his sister, and close friends.
Most volumes of the diaries contain a synopsis of the year's events in the final pages of the bound volume. Beginning in the early 1970s, Mackenzie begins to write more reflectively in his diaries and provides his own opinions and insights into the events he records. There are introspective entries on diary writing in the beginning of several volumes of diaries written after 1975, and the entry for March 7, 1972 contains a reflection on his lifestyle choices and his atheism.
There are also reflective and critical entries on Canadian and American politics, homophobia, generational conflicts within the gay community, American foreign policy, Quebec sovereignty and other major social and political events of the late twentieth century.