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William H. Collier Ledger

Identifier: Ms-2009-027

Scope and Content

This collection consists of a ledger maintained by William H. Collier, a farmer from Northampton County, North Carolina during the latter half of the nineteenth century. Collier's ledger lists in detail his expenses--for household goods as well as farm supplies and equipment--during a 30-year period. (Although the ledger contains data for the years 1857-1860, the years 1862-1864 are lacking, and more frequent entries commence with 1866.) Many of the entries, made regularly, relate to farm labor. Recorded for both long-term and day laborers are wages, work performed, provisions issued, and wages withheld. Appearing after the names of several workers are the initials "FM" and "FW," likely describing individuals as freedmen and freedwomen. Members of the Moody family are mentioned frequently among the laborers, as are members of the Nolley, Woodruff, Jordan, and Hodges families. Collier often used child laborers, hired from their parents or other relatives.

Collier also lists within the ledger the amount of cotton produced on his farm as well as the amount of corn produced and sent to mill. He makes special mention of the amount of his trade in late 1865, "after the surrender of Lee's Army" and "sales of cotton soald this fall after the serender of the Southern Army." He details his trades and purchases with various merchants in North Carolina's Halifax and Northampton counties--as well as Petersburg, Virginia--for such items as clothing, medicine, foodstuffs, and farming supplies and equipment. Also within the ledger are notations regarding Collier's account as administrator of his father's will and copies of agreements for obtaining credit against future crops and for sharecropping on his land.


  • 1856 - 1887


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use

The copyright status of this collection is unknown. Copyright restrictions may apply. Contact Special Collections and University Archives for assistance in determining the use of these materials.

Reproduction or digitization of materials for personal or research use can be requested using our reproduction/digitization form: Reproduction or digitization of materials for publication or exhibit use can be requested using our publication/exhibition form: Please contact Special Collections and University Archives ( or 540-231-6308) if you need assistance with forms or to submit a completed form.

Biographical Note

William H. Collier, son of Joseph and Sarah C. Mangum Collier, was born in Northampton, North Carolina in 1822. He married Sarah Parham (1824-1857) in 1843. The couple had eight children, including Joseph H. (mentioned frequently within the ledger). Following the Sarah's death, Collier in 1860 married Elizabeth Rebecca Bonner Garner, by whom he fathered another seven children. William H. Collier died in 1906.

Within his ledger, Collier provides the year of birth of a woman named Charity--likely an enslaved person--and the names and birth years of her children and grandchildren, including: Mary (1841), Lieuanna (1847), Henry (1849), Susan (1851), Julia (1853), Ben (1855), Sarah Ann (1857), twins Charles and Ned (1859), and George (1860). In later entries, Collier makes frequent mention of hiring and paying members of the Moody family. The 1870 census for Northampton County lists 45-year-old African American Charity Moody living with her husband, Burton and children Henry, 21; Sarah, 16; Ben, 17; and Charles and Edward, 12. No further record could be found on the Moody family.


0.3 Cubic Feet (1 box)


The collection contains a farm and household expense ledger of William H. Collier of Northampton County, North Carolina.

Source of Acquisition

The William H. Collier Ledger was purchased by Special Collections in 2009.

Rights Statement for Archival Description

The guide to the William H. Collier Ledger by Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech, is licensed under a CC0 (

Processing Information

The processing and description of the William H. Collier Ledger commenced and was completed in February 2009.

William H. Collier Ledger, 1856-1887
John M. Jackson, Archivist
2009 (CC0 1.0)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives, Virginia Tech Repository

Special Collections and University Archives, University Libraries (0434)
560 Drillfield Drive
Newman Library, Virginia Tech
Blacksburg Virginia 24061 US