County Register of Deeds offices in North Carolina have kept property records since the 1700s. Because enslaved persons were considered "property" prior to the end of the Civil War, transfers were recorded in the Register of Deeds offices.
By locating and transcribing these records and placing them in an accessible database, students in a 2013 CFCC Critical Thinking course bring this part of local history to life.
New Hanover County Register of Deeds Tammy Beasley, interviewed for an article in the StarNews, said that the work also "gives so many people the opportunity to try and find their genealogy."
Find out more about the functions and services of the New Hanover County Register of Deeds
View the StarNews article.
"One of the biggest brick walls to researching enslaved ancestors is finding documents that name slaves, and therefore able to pinpoint their slave holder(s). Many official documents fail to give the names of slaves. For example, with a very few exceptions, the 1850 and 1860 census slave schedule list the slave holder and the number of slaves owned by gender and age, but fail to list the names of slaves. Even in court records, wills, or estates that refer to specific slaves, they may give only age and gender without naming them. 2 new sources recently came to my attention and wanted to share them with you.
Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, NC has undertaken a project to abstract and index slaves mentioned in deed books and court records located at the New Hanover County Register of Deeds. This is a wonderful source for slave research!"
Read other articles below.
The Buncombe County Register of Deeds Office presents access to slave deed records "in an effort to help remember our past so we will never again repeat it." Their website allows the user to view each original document by clicking on the book and page hyperlink.