The Slave Deeds of North Carolina

What are Slave Deeds?

“Slave deeds” are property deeds – bills of sale, deeds of trust, divisions of property – registered with county courts and registers of deeds that contain information about enslaved individuals. Sometimes these individuals are listed only by number, but more often they are listed by name and age, providing invaluable historical information for historians and genealogists.

The slave deed shown below from Buncombe County records the sale of a negroe woman named Rachal : About twenty six years old for $375 on January 24, 1816.  Rachal was sold by William Moore to Ann Ashworth.

Documents like this one, along with the other components of the Digital Library on American Slavery documents like these will help to restore personal details to the history of slavery and to trace the movements of enslaved peoples over time. For genealogists, even small details like first names and approximate ages can be precious leads in reconstructing family histories.

The ultimate goal of the project is to digitize slave deeds across the state of North Carolina. In the first phase, we are working with twenty-six counties. Surveys about participation were sent to all 100 counties in the state, and the twenty-six listed above responded favorably to the survey and have relevant records.  Other counties either did not respond to the survey or do not have records going back that far.  This may be due to the destruction of records by flooding/fire or, in the case of Western counties especially, the late date of establishment as counties.

READ MORE: Slave Deeds of North Carolina

One more: NC’s Slave Deeds Tell Stories Of ‘People, Not Property’ (WUNC The State Of Things; March 10, 2020)

4 Replies to “The Slave Deeds of North Carolina”

  1. Here I think the DNA thing is a blessing of sorts… offering precious leads to histories that deserve recognition and honoring… So much of anglo history just sickens me (not that other races have not been liable in different or lesser ways, but it is the sheer SCALE that sucks the air from the room…) I hope atonement is in reach…and that we may prove worthy of forgiveness — Divine and otherwise…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pete, I asked an author how hard it was for her to locate New England slave records for her book on Native American slavery and she said they are right there… right in the files… so some historians CHOSE (?) not to document it… those papers hold the real history. Hiding the truth is the real crime, in my humble opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

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