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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 6 highlights Natchez, where so much of the cotton wealth became concentrated. Natchez is the origin of valuable family papers documenting the lives of Norton, Chilton, Dameron, Minor, Guion, and Quitman family members. Business records include the William Dunbar account book and the extensive George Washington Sargent letterbooks.
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