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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 L, Part 1 centers on the Carters of Sabine Hall in Richmond County, in Virginia's Northern Neck. These Carters were related to the Carters of Shirley Plantation. Correspondence of this period documents the close ties of business, friendship, and marriage between the Carters of Sabine Hall and the Tayloes of Mt. Airy, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. There are also records of family gatherings, horse races, barbecues, and other social events. Documents relating to the migration of Virginia planters to the new plantation regions of Alabama and the Southwest augment the extensive material on life in the Northern Neck. Papers concerning slavery include estate inventories, medical papers, letters to and from overseers, and more.
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