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Overview

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 3 includes business records, correspondence, accounts, and farm notes of Sir Peyton Skipwith (1740-1805); his wife, Lady Jean Miller Skipwith (1748-1826); their son, Humberston Skipwith (1791-1863); and Humberston's wives and children. The papers detail the management of Prestwould Plantation in Mecklenburg County, Virginia, an area dominated by tobacco culture. The development of Lady Jean Skipwith's outstanding library and the education and travel of various family members are well documented. Manuscript volumes relate to farm accounts, Lady Jean's interest in gardening, and the education of family members. While there is material from the 20th century, most of the documents are from the 19th, including rich postbellum material and detailed agricultural records up to the 1880s.

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