Business records and some personal correspondence of four generations of the Cuningham family, including Robert Cuningham; Alexander Cuningham, and his brother, Richard M. Cuningham; the latter's son, John Wilson Cuningham; and grandson, John Somerville Cuningham, all merchants and planters. The early papers center around Alexander and Richard's success as commission merchants for cotton and tobacco in Petersburg, Va., and the firm's planting interests in Person County, N.C. The collection also contains a few family letters, including some from Alexander Jr. while a student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and from another son at Leasburg Academy, Caswell County, N.C. The papers of John Somerville Cuningham concern his work as a field agent for the Bureau of Crop Estimates, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, local politics, and family matters.
Correspondence, accounts, invoices, statements, and legal papers, chiefly spanning the years 1814-1872, of Robert Leslie, a member of the Virginia mercantile firm of Leslie and Shepherd, and a slave owner. The papers before 1819 largely concern the processing and sale of cotton, tobacco, rice, and western lands. Most of the papers after 1819 pertain to tobacco manufacture in the Richmond-Petersburg area. Other topics include Leslie's career, family, and travels in England; his western landholdings and efforts to develop the West; his slaveholding and attitude toward it; mercantile prices and U.S.-British trade; and absentee landlordship referring to the maintenance of American property owned by Englishmen. Later material includes scattered correspondence and business papers of Leslie's nephews, Robert L. Watson and John McGill, whom Leslie had admitted to partnership in the firm.