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Dillard Family Ledgers

 Collection — Box: 4313.001
Identifier: MSS-4313

Scope and Contents

Two account ledger books belonging to the Dillard family of Lovingston, Virginia, containing business and farming records, laborers and slaves’ specific activities, labor contracts, worker wages, and personal opinions from the Dillards on their workers and slaves between 1859-1888.

The entries pertaining to labor contracts describe the terms of involuntary servitude placed upon African American workers in exchange for food, meals, and housing. Included in these entries are instances when pay would be docked and under what circumstances. A laborer, Jim Wilson, is described as going to the doctor instead of ploughing and therefore has his pay reduced by the Dillards. Another laborer, George Miller, was told to quit the farm after traveling to find a home to move to.

The Dillards expressed their opinions of their slaves and laborers throughout the pages. One such entry from 1880-1882 in the larger of the two ledgers describes a laborer, Stepney Edmonds, wounding one of the Dillard brothers. Edmonds was killed shortly after this incident. The ledger does not disclose if Edmonds’ killing happened at the same time that one of the brothers was shot and it is unclear if he selectively omitted it from his account.


  • 1859 - 1888

Condition Description

Cover boards of books are heavily worn with signs of cracking. Each book is bound by cord though a few pages have come loose. Delicate handling needed.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materialswith sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations.Due to the nature of certain archival formats, including digital and audio-visual materials, access to certain materials may requireadditional advance notice.

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers are responsible for using the materials in conformance with United States copyright law as well as any donor restrictions accompanying the materials. The user assumes all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any copyright claimants in collection materials. Copyright for official University records is held by The University of Alabama. The library claims only physical ownership of many manuscript collections. Anyone wishing to broadcast or publish this material must assume all responsibility for identifying and satisfying any claimants of literary property rights or copyrights. Please contact Special Collections ( with questions regarding specific manuscript collections.For more information about copyright policy, please visit: Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source.Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal implications, for which the University of Alabama assumes no responsibility.

Biographical / Historical

Plantation owner James Dillard had three sons John, Stephen, and William. Among all four Dillard men they owned 78 enslaved people according to the 1860 census. The Dillards owned three farms located in Nelson County, Virginia: Novelvetia, Down’s Hill, and Calohill. The farms produced oats, corn, apples, potatoes, watermelon, and tobacco, and hogs and sheep were also raised. After the Civil War the Dillards participated in the USDA seed program, which is recorded during the times of 1885-1888.


1 Linear Feet (1 record box)

Language of Materials


Condition Description

Cover boards of books are heavily worn with signs of cracking. Each book is bound by cord though a few pages have come loose. Delicate handling needed.
Guide to Dillard Family Ledgers
August 2022
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The University of Alabama Libraries Special Collections Repository

Box 870266
Tuscaloosa AL 35487-0266