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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 2 begins with business letters, letterbooks, and account books of immigrant Francis Jerdone (1721-1771), a Scottish factor who lived in Hanover County, Yorktown, and Louisa County, Virginia, and letters of his wife, Sarah Macon Jerdone. These early papers are among the finest extant sources for the study of the colonial plantation economy in Virginia and the tobacco trade with Europe. Most of the collection consists of letters, accounts, and diaries of the next two generations of the Jerdone family, with the majority dating from 1771 to 1845. Family members include Francis Jerdone (1756-1841), a Louisa County planter; his brother, John Jerdone (1764-1786), a Spotsylvania County planter; Alexander McCauley of Yorktown, brother-in-law of Francis Jerdone; and Francis's sons, John (b. 1800), Francis (b. 1802), and William (b. 1805).

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