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Drawn from major repositories throughout the South, these primary documents are rich resources for scholars. They open new directions for research on plantations as economic and social systems, values and culture among the southern elite, slavery and emancipation, women's roles, life among the yeoman class, marketing of staple crops, national politics, southern politics, the Civil War, and myriad other aspects of the antebellum period. Because the plantation was a commercial enterprise, record keeping was essential. Many planters kept journals, crop books, overseers' journals, and account books in remarkable detail. Family members often kept personal diaries and corresponded extensively with friends and relatives near and far. Series J, Part 1 charts the rise of a plantation family from 1770, when the family ran a country store along an Indian trail in central North Carolina, through the establishment of a plantation in 1778 followed by regular increases in land and slaves. The Cameron papers document women's success in managing large plantations during the men's absences, complicated legal agreements in upper-class marriages, slave genealogies, and the material culture of the times.
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