The Emil Smith sketchbook contains 38 pages filled with pencil drawings and pasted lithographs. The inside cover includes a modern reprint of a carte-de-visite of a soldier holding a bugle, identified as Lou Smith. The first page indicates that the sketchbook belonged to Emil Smith, which he titled, "Specimens of Designs for Carving in Ivory." This page also includes an image of Lady Columbia about to stab a cougar, along with a note that Emil Smith was a member of Company G of the 39th Ohio Volunteer Infantry.
Many of the sketches are of deer and dogs and decorative frames with leaves and vines. There are also sketches of a woman wearing gold jewelry, anatomical sketches of arms and legs, an angel in a cup, female hair pieces, and the handles of swords and canes. Of note are multiple sketches depicting various scenes of the Civil War, including a bird's-eye view of Camp Dennison near Cincinnati, Ohio, unidentified barracks, a scene of camp life titled "Fair Ground Near Memphis," and a sketch of an African American soldier. The sketch of the soldier is based on an illustration from Harper's Weekly from July 2, 1862. The article accompanying the illustration, "The Escaped Slave and the Union Soldier," describes the life of an escaped slave from Montgomery, Alabama who joined the Union Army. The soldier's name was not mentioned in the article, however, the soldier has later been identified as Hubbard Pryor.
Also included in the sketchbook are many lithographs of water scenes, city buildings, castles, and cathedrals in various locations in Germany, including Andernach, Bacharach, Koblenz, Mainz, Nonnenwerth, Wiesbaden, and Worms.