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Slave Deeds

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Deed of sale written on aged paper (small)Through the Slavery Deeds project, the Guilford County Register of Deeds office found 254 deeds of men, women, and children of color sold as property prior to the Civil War. For historians and genealogists finding this information can be like finding “needle in a haystack”. We have managed to triangulate the needles and make them available to the public from as far back as 1774. This information is now online. We encourage our community, educators, students, and researchers and genealogists, to use this information and share it widely.

This Guilford County Slave Deeds project is the second in North Carolina. Buncombe County Register of Deeds collaborated with UNC Asheville’s Center for Diversity Education to make slave deeds available in 2014. It is our collective hope that more counties in North Carolina will research these records and make them more readily accessible to their local communities. Each of these deeds represents families and loved ones, and the hopes and dreams of those who lived during the most troubling time in our nation’s history. Their voices speak to us today. This project seeks to use deeds to help us to understand the transactional nature of enslaved people and to help researchers make valuable connections. America is continually changing. We have the most multicultural and diverse generation in our history. To fully live out the values we seek, new generations will need to continually discover history anew. Understanding our past, assessing the present, and looking toward the future guided once again to the core values of the rallying cry: e Pluribus Unum (Out of Many One). 

visitors at slave deeds exhibitThe Guilford County Register of Deeds Slave Deeds project and Bills of Sale Exhibit has been a partnership between historians, educators, and students from North Carolina A&T, UNC-Greensboro and Guilford College. Special thanks to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum for hosting this exhibit as part of Arts Greensboro 17 days and on the eve of the National Folk Festival in 2015. The High Point Museum Exhibit in 2017 featured Slave Deeds of Guilford County.  Local genealogists and local descendant families have also contributed as a community committed to understanding our past and how to make it come alive in the present and future.

The Eleventh (11) episode of our Community Interview Series on the Slave Deeds of Guilford County can be found at the Register of Deeds YouTube Page!

community interview series

Additional Resources:

Buncombe County Register of Deeds


UNC-Greensboro People Not Property


UNC Greensboro Digital Library on American Slavery


Guilford College Quaker Archives


State Library of North Carolina


High Point Museum Research Links


Logie Meachum “On My Way to Comfort”