I love to go down the rabbit hole and explore archives and libraries websites. University library websites are particularly rich in BSOs (bright, shiny objects) for family history researchers, although not all of the collections have been digitized.
While burrowing through the University of North Carolina Greensboro website, I came across today’s GeneaGem, just in time for Black History Month – the Digital Library on American Slavery.
There are five collections – Race and Slavery Petitions Project, NC Runaway Slave Advertisements, Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, Slave Deeds of North Carolina and Slavery Era Insurance Registries – and all are searchable.
Although somewhat centered around North Carolina records, do not skip by this website if you are seeking information on possible enslaved ancestors in other states. The first database, Race and Slavery Petitions Project, includes a surname search engine and a choice of any of the sixteen states which allowed slavery.
The second and fourth records sets, NC Runaway Slave Advertisements and Slave Deeds of North Carolina, do pertain just to North Carolina. Another thing to keep in mind is that this Digital Library is still growing. Not all counties in North Carolina are represented. The Slave Deeds database includes a map showing which counties have records in the database at this time.
The Runaway Slave Advertisements will take some time to explore as the ads appear to be indexed only by county. While they mention the name of the runaway and the owner, it is necessary to read the clipping to find those names.
The fifth record set, Slavery Era Insurance Registries, is actually held in California. Currently, there are 670 entries, sometimes with more than one per slaveholder.
The database that eventually will be the most useful is probably the Slave Deeds of North Carolina, as the goal is to have all the pertinent deeds currently housed at the county level entered in this one database.
This is a small GeneaGem at the moment, but as more records are added to the collection, it will become an important resource for those seeking to document the lives of their enslaved ancestors.