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. Now the most important of these manuscripts are available to researchers everywhere through UPA's continuing microfilm series.
Plantation journals, correspondence, and diaries reveal telling minutiae of plantation life. Louisiana plantation records in Series J, Part 5: Louisiana document sugar culture in the parishes of Ascension, Iberia, Iberville, Plaquemines, Point Coupe, St. Mary, and Terrebonne and cotton growing in Caldwell, Natchitoches, Rapides, St. Joseph, Tensas, and West Feliciana parishes. In addition, the Louisiana selections include merchants' extensive correspondence on the ever-changing cotton and sugar markets.