Filled with details of slaves' social values, family formation, work patterns, "internal economies," and domestic production, To Have and to Hold is based on a wide variety of primary and secondary sources, emphasizing wherever possible the recollections of former slaves. Although their private world was never immune to intervention from the white world, Hudson demonstrates a relationship between the agricultural productivity of slaves, in family situations that range from simple to complex formations, and the accumulation of personal property and social status within slave communities. By capitalizing on these opportunities for autonomy, says Hudson, slaves not only tempered some of the daily brutalities of their lives but also prepared themselves for freedom, for it was the family group that most powerfully influenced the personalities of the slaves and it was in the slave quarters that the foundations of an African American culture were established. Looking closely at both the slaves' and masters' worlds in low, middle, and up-country South Carolina, Larry E. Hudson Jr. covers a wide range of economic and social topics related to the opportunities given to slaves to produce and trade their own food and other goods - contingent on first completing the master's assigned work for the day. In particular, Hudson shows how these opportunities were exploited by the slaves to both increase their control over their family life and to gain status among their fellow slaves.