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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. In Series J, Part 3: South Carolina, the plantation records are especially rich sources for the study of lowland cotton and rice plantations in Georgetown, Charleston, Colleton, and Beaufort districts. The pre-Revolutionary letterbook of a Charleston commission merchant and his correspondence with British merchants and absentee plantation owners is an exceptional source for the study of international commerce and plantation management. Upland plantations of Abbeville, Chesterfield, Claremont, Clarendon, Darlington, Fairfield, Kershaw, Pendleton, Richland, and Sumter districts are also well represented in the new selections. Planters here often owned several separate estates managed by other family members or overseers.
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