‘People Not Property’ Aims to Create Statewide Database of Slave Deeds in North Carolina

When Deshawn Elam started college at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University , an Historically Black College (HBCU) in Greensboro, N.C., he thought he would become a history teacher. But life changed his plans.

One of his first classes introduced Elam to digital archiving.

“I’ve always been someone who’s interested in seeing actual history, like having it in my hands,” Elam says. “So, I was always fascinated with trying to preserve that history and trying to hold it physically.”

Buncombe SlaveDeed

“Slave deeds,” documents testifying to the sale of enslaved people, were stored in county Register of Deeds offices. One of the first people who began digitizing these records and making them public was Drew Reisinger, the Register of Deeds for Buncombe County, North Carolina. The Buncombe County’s registry office has documents dating to the 1700s, and it has approximately 300 slave deeds.

Now, Elam, 20 and still an undergraduate, is working with archivists at UNCG to digitize slave deeds from 26 North Carolina counties so they can be included in the Digital Library on American Slavery.

You can read the full story in an article by Zoe Sullivan in the NextCity web site at: http://bit.ly/2tCypOt.

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