The Cabells and Their Times
How They Lived
The University of Virginia’s extensive manuscript collections on the Cabell family reveal both the quotidian and the sublime. In those moments wherein the Cabells intersect with the story of our state and nation, the documents are revealing. Perhaps even more useful from a historian’s point of view, and often profoundly moving for modern audiences, are the insights that can be painstakingly pieced together from the everyday events recorded in family letters, memorandum books, and diaries. They reveal the way that the Cabells and their contemporaries lived, from the food that they ate to the manner in which they traveled, and the manifold ways in which their comfortable lifestyle depended upon the labor of enslaved African Americans. For example, Cabells thoroughly documented virtually every aspect of life at Union Hill—still imposing in the 1968 photograph shown below—both in the main house and in the quarters shared by the estate’s enslaved population.