About the Digital Library on American Slavery

Inside the Slave House © Zach Frailey.
Licensed via Creative Commons 2.0

The Digital Library on American Slavery is an expanding resource compiling various independent online collections focused upon race and slavery in the American South, made searchable through a single, simple interface.

Although the current focus of DLAS is sources associated with North Carolina, there is considerable data contained herein relating to all 15 slave states and Washington, D.C., including detailed personal information about slaves, slaveholders, and free people of color.

Advisory Board

The Digital Library on American Slavery Advisory Board is a small, informal group of interested individuals brought together by invitation. The board will endeavor to promote the best interests of the Digital Library on American Slavery through their advice, experiences, and expertise.

Included Projects

Race and Slavery Petitions Project

The Race and Slavery Petitions Project offers data on race and slavery extracted from eighteenth and nineteenth-century documents and processed over a period of eighteen years. The Project contains detailed information on about 150,000 individuals, including slaves, free people of color, and whites, extracted from 2,975 legislative petitions and 14,512 county court petitions, as well as from a wide range of related documents, including wills, inventories, deeds, bills of sale, depositions, court proceedings, amended petitions, among others. Buried in these documents are the names and other data on roughly 80,000 slaves, 8,000 free people of color, and 62,000 whites, both slave owners and non-slave owners.

NC Runaway Slave Advertisements

The North Carolina Runaway Slave Advertisements project provides online access to all known runaway slave advertisements (more than 2300 items) published in North Carolina newspapers from 1751 to 1840. These brief ads provide a glimpse into the social, economic, and cultural world of the American slave system and the specific experience within North Carolina. The NCRSA website includes digital scans of the ads, contextual essays to address their historical research value, full text transcripts, an annotated bibliography to aid researchers, and a searchable database.

Slave Deeds of North Carolina

Slave Deeds of Buncombe County, NC

The Buncombe County Register of Deeds office has kept property records since the late 1700's, wherein one can find a wealth of information about the history of the community. The Register of Deeds have compiled a list of the documents that record the trade of people as slaves in Buncombe County. These people were considered "property" prior to end of the Civil War; therefore these transfers were recorded in the Register of Deeds office. Their listings detail the book and page number where the deed is located in their record books as well as the seller (grantor) and buyer (grantee) of the "property." Each original document is viewable online.

The Register of Deeds Office presents these records in an effort to help remember our past so we will never again repeat it.

Guilford County Slavery Deeds

Records of Slavery Deeds from 1774 to 1826, available in Excel and PDF formats. Individual records are available via the Guilford County web site as a PDF file.

Iredell County Slave Deed Index

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 The whole of the Iredell County Slave Deed Index is available via their web site as a PDF file.

New Hanover County Slave Deeds

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.

Surry County Slave Deeds

A listing of slaves found in various documents recorded in Deed Books A-11 in Surry County, NC from 1771 through 1867. Compiled by Jennifer H. Crouse, Deputy Register of Deeds, this is an effort but by all means not a complete list of each slave recorded in deeds in Surry County, NC.

Slavery Era Insurance Registries

Slavery Era Insurance Registry of California

On September 30, 2000 Governor Gray Davis of California signed two bills relating to slave insurance, with other states later following suit. Included here are 670 distinct records as made available by the California Department of Insurance. The California web site makes available four different reports; Slavery Era, Slave Names, Slaveholder Names and New York Life Cancelled Policies Reports.

Do You Know of Other Online Resources?

Please let us know! We're always interested in exploring the possibility of adding more varied resources to our search results.

Maintained by ERIT, University Libraries, UNCG