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James L. Hunter Diary and The Gardening Book of James L. Hunter, A Southern Planter

Identifier: ahc.MSS987

Scope and Contents of the Records

The collection contains the original gardening book of James L. Hunter with diary entries from September 1845 to March 1846. The diary details the plan for Hunter’s vegetable garden, the types of vegetables planted, and best practices for successful crops. The dated entries provide a clear timeline of Hunter’s gardening activities. Incidentally, the diary contains rote French exercises and math calculations on its final pages. The collection also includes Catherine Howett’s 1996 publication, The Gardening Book of James L. Hunter, a Southern Planter, which provides images of the original diary’s pages and commentary on Hunter and the significance of his diary as a unique document of the horticultural history of the antebellum south.


  • 1845-1996


Restrictions on Access

The Gardening Book of James L. Hunter, A Southern Planter contains a facsimile of the original diary in its entirety. Due to the fragile condition of the James L. Hunter Diary, researchers must consult the published version within this collection.

Restrictions on Use

Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. All requests to publish, quote, or reproduce must be submitted through the Kenan Research Center.

Administrative/Biographical History

James Lingard Hunter (1817-1846) was born in Charleston, South Carolina on April 14, 1817. In the early 1830s, he moved to Irwinton (later renamed Eufaula), Alabama with his family. By 1833, his father, General John Lingard Hunter (1795-1865), had become the largest slaveholder in Barbour County, Alabama. James L. Hunter married Sarah Elizabeth Shorter, who had moved to Irwinton with her family in 1837. Prior to moving to Alabama, however, Sarah Elizabeth’s father, Reuben Clarke Shorter, had purchased a large cotton plantation on the Chattahoochee River, in Randolph (now Quitman) County, Georgia. It is possible that the site described in the gardening book in this collection was the plantation owned by Reuben Clarke Shorter, and was managed by James L. Hunter. Hunter died of malaria on June 22, 1846, less than three months after the last entry in his gardening book.


0.21 linear ft.



Arrangement of the Papers

This collection is arranged by publication date.

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 1995.

General Physical Description note

(2 items)


America's Turning Point: Documenting the Civil War Experience in Georgia received support from a Digitizing Historical Records grant awarded to the Atlanta History Center, Georgia Historical Society, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and the Digital Library of Georgia by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Processing Information

Collection processed in 2008.
James L. Hunter Diary and The Gardening Book of James L. Hunter, A Southern Planter, 1845-1846, 1996ahc.MSS 987
Inventory prepared by Erica Danylchak
August 2009
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center Repository

130 West Paces Ferry Road
Atlanta GA 30305