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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. The five collections in Series J, Part 14 are from plantations in Wilkes, Burke, and McDowell counties. The Hamilton Brown Papers span three generations of a family in North Carolina and Tennessee. Relatives and business associates wrote regularly from locations in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, and Virginia. A massive diary covers 65 years in the life of planter James Hervey Greenlee. The business, family, and social records of James Gwyn, a merchant and court official as well as a planter, describe plantation life in western North Carolina.
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Multimedia resources open up new avenues of exploration into a human rights hero’s life and legacy.