The Buncombe County Register of Deeds and the Center for Diversity Education at UNC Asheville have made available online a database of county deeds documenting the buying and selling of enslaved persons. These slave deeds shed light on a dark area of our state’s past, and are often the only legal records that the African Americans listed as property in the deeds even existed. Thus, they are extremely important not only because they document the reality and the mechanics of slavery in North Carolina, but also because they are a rare source of evidence of the actual people that it affected the most.
We commend the Buncombe County Register of Deeds for making these records available online. Records that only had legal value when they were made can become historical artifacts that allow us to engage with our past more fully. This is why it’s so important to take good care of the records we create today–
–and to give people access to our records of the past.