Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro are working to digitize slave deeds with a project called “People Not Property.”
Its goal is to digitize slave deeds for more than 26 counties, including, Buncombe, Guilford and New Hanover.
The deeds contain information about a slave’s will, occupation, family information and more.
Researcher Richard Cox said it’s an important project because some record keepers aren't able to handle it for various reasons.
“There are several counties that just do not have records at all anymore based upon floods, fires and things like that,” he said. “They just, they vanish.”
UNCG was given a grant of $294,000 to complete the project. Cox said it will take about three years to finish.
He said he wants people to realize that slaves weren't just property.
“The more these unnamed people that we actually can give not only names to, but families to, will I think hopefully open up a conversation about slavery and the history of North Carolina more broadly,” he said.
After the project is completed, Cox wants to expand and involve other states in digitizing their slave deeds.
One of his personal goals is to humanize slaves and see what life was like in North Carolina during that time.
“There’s something about attaching a name to a person that builds up even more humanity for them.”