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Carter Family Papers

Identifier: Mss. 39.1 C24

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

The collection includes: correspondence and land records of Robert "King" Carter; correspondence and land records of his sons Robert Carter (1704-1731) and Landon Carter (1710-1778); correspondence, accounts, land records and the appointment to the Virginia Council of Robert Carter (1728-1804), son of Robert Carter (1704-1731); correspondence, diaries, land records and accounts of Robert Wormeley Carter (1734-1804), son of Landon Carter of Sabine Hall; and correspondence and land records and papers concerning the estate of Robert Carter's grandson, Landon Carter (1757-1820).

The bulk of the collection consists of the papers of Robert Wormeley Carter (1792-1861) including his correspondence with Robley Dunglison, John Tyler, John Tayloe Lomax, Edmund Ruffin, Robert Young Conrad and members of the Tayloe family as well as his diaries and accounts arranged by subject. [Note: in May 2012, the diaries of Robert W. Carter (Subseries 6, Folder 91) were removed and catalogued as Rare Books].

Subjects covered in the collection include plantation life, horse-racing, real property, nineteenth-century Virginia politics, enslaved persons, and tobacco. In addition, there are miscellaneous eighteenth-century land and legal documents.

Also accessible on microfilm: Carter Papers, 1667-1862, in Swem Library’s microforms area, 1 reel, call number HD1471 .U5 R43 ser.L Part 1.


  • Creation: 1667-1862
  • Creation: Majority of material found in 1792-1861


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access:

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use:

Before reproducing or quoting from any materials, in whole or in part, permission must be obtained from the Special Collections Research Center, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.

Family History:

Robert "King" Carter (1663-1732) was a colonial official and landholder (300,000 acres). His sons were Robert Carter (1704-1731) and Landon Carter (1710-1778) of "Sabine Hall." Grandsons of Robert Carter included Robert "Councillor" Carter (1728-1804) of "Nomini" and Robert Wormeley Carter (1734-1797).


8609.00 Items (28 Century Boxes)


Arrangement: All papers which could be definitely identified with a person of some importance are grouped under the name of that person. These groups are arranged by alphabetical order. Persons of the same name are distinguished by dates of birth and death, or by their relationship to other persons whose dates are known.The general files (Folder 103-109) are placed after this alphabetical series (Folders 1-102). These files are separated into categories using appropriate classifications. Letters and papers belonging to estates, suits, etc., are filed with their respective groups. Likewise other letters and papers are listed either in the alphabetically arranged groups mentioned above, or in the general files.

Organization: This collection is organized into the following series and subserie: Series 1: People Files, Subseries are: Carter, Miss; Carter, (Miss C.); Carter (Charles) of Cleve, 1707-1764; Carter (Charles) of Shirley, 1732-1806; Carter (Elizabeth) [wife of Landon Carter, 1710-1778]; Carter (Elizabeth) [daughter of Robert W. Carter, 1792-1861] ; Carter (Elizabeth L.) [sister of Robert W. Carter, 1792-1861]; Carter (George) [son of Robert "Councillor" Carter]; Carter (George B.) estate; Carter (John Armistead) guardianship; Carter (Kate); Carter (Landon) 1710-1778 ;Carter (Landon, Jr.) [son of Landon Carter, 1710-1778]; Carter (Landon) 1756-1820, estate; Carter (Landon, Jr.) [half-brother of Robert W. Carter, 1792-1861] ;Carter (Robert "King") 1663-1732; Carter (Robert) of Nomini, born c. 1704, died 1731; Carter (Robert "Councillor") of Nomini, 1728-1804; Carter (Robert Wormeley) 1734-1797 ; Carter (Robert W.) 1792-1861; Carter (Robert W.) 1792-1861 ; Tayloe (John) estate. Series 2: General files. Subseries: Accounts, invoices, receipts; Letters; Other papers; Printed matter; Unidentified pieces and fragments; Labels, covers and envelopes

Physical Characteristics or Technical Requirements:

When available, microfilm, photocopies, digital surrogates, or other reproductions must be used in place of original documents.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased: 8,602 items 12/31/1935; 2 items in November 1938.

Related Materials

This current finding aid is also available in the microfilm format at the Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary. An additional index can be found at: National Inventory of Documentary Sources in the United States available from Chadwyck-Healey, Inc., 1021 Prince Street, Alexandria, Va. 22314.

Separated Materials

In May 2012, the diaries of Robert W. Carter (Subseries 6, Folder 91: Diaries of Robert W. Carter) were removed from the Carter Family Papers and catalogued as Rare Books under: AY 326.R5 W3 1836 AY 326.R5 W3 1844 AY 326.R5 W3 1846 AY 35.R5 C6 1838 AY 35.R5 C6 1859


Other Information:

Additional information may be found at

Guide to the Carter Family Papers
Special Collections Staff.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository