Working with the Dixon Ledgers, Port Royal, Virginia

My personal research focuses on the dress of indentured and enslaved servant women from 1750-1790. While I was in DC for work recently, I was able to slip over to the Library of Congress for a couple of hours and download images from a selection of Edward Dixon’s ledger books. Dixon was a merchant in Port Royal, Virginia, a town on the Rappahanock River in Caroline County. I’m looking for information about the sale of textiles for indentured and enslaved women, as well as owners of women who I have cataloged in my Runaway Clothing Database (here’s an earlier post on that project).

I just started looking at the ledgers last night, and they are a real treasure. Not only does the ledger I was looking at record costs for the making of shoes, shirts, and suits of clothes for slaves, it sometimes specifically records purchases of textiles for individual slaves. I’m working on the methodology for working on these materials while I’m at my research fellowship at the Winterthur Museum, Library, and Garden in July.

Here’s a snippet from that ledger – apologies I can’t show a larger image. Thomas Turner’s estate made the purchase on Nov. 8, 1768 of 2 yards Cotton at 4s. a yard and 2 yards brown linen at 2s. a yard “for Negro Mary.” See the Library of Congress finding aid here.

Edward Dixon Ledger.

Edward Dixon Ledger. Box 24, Reel 8. Library of Congress. Apologies for the rasterization.