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. In Series J, Part 9 plantation records reflect the primacy of tobacco, always its chief commercial crop, though grain and livestock were also important. Documentation extends from the early 18th century (in the Charles William Dabney papers and Fredericks Hall Plantation books) t hrough the Civil War.