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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 11 covers the Hairston and Wilson families. These related families of tobacco planters and merchants lived in Southside Virginia and Piedmont North Carolina. Many of the Hairston and Wilson documents relate to slavery in Virginia, North Carolina, and Mississippi, where some family members had moved to raise cotton. In the account books there are slave birth records, clothing allotments, and work records. Numerous documents refer to the purchase and sale of slaves. There is also extensive documentation of the overseer system.
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