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UNCG Digital Collections

North Carolina slave ads database and website launched

The North Carolina Runaway Slave Advertisements project (NCRSA) 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 and will be of interest to historians, genealogists, students, and casual users. The project website is available to the public at http://ncslaveadsproject.org.

NCRSA is a collaboration between the University Libraries of the University of North Carolina (UNCG) at Greensboro and the F.D. Bluford Library of North Carolina A&T State University (NC A&T).

Working from microfilmed copies of these rare publications, the project team scanned the ads to provide digital images, created full-text transcripts and descriptive metadata, and developed a searchable database. Users can browse the advertisements by decade and by county of origin, and the NCRSA website includes digital images of the ads, essays to address their historical context and interesting trends, full text transcripts, and an annotated bibliography to aid researchers.The advertisements are also fully keyword searchable. The advertisements were digitized from microfilm created by the North Carolina State Library and other sources. Staff members and student workers at UNCG and NC A&T scanned individual advertisements and then created transcripts and additional descriptive metadata.

NCRSA builds on the work of Freddie L. Parker (Stealing a Little Freedom: Advertisements for Slave Runaways in North Carolina, 1791-1840) and Lathan Windley (Runaway Slave Advertisements). A future enhancement will be the integration of this project with the preexisting Digital Library on American Slavery (http://library.uncg.edu/slavery/), based on the work of Dr. Loren Schweninger of UNCG, so that the two sites can be searched and browsed as one.

The project was funded through a 2011-2012 NC ECHO Digitization Grant. This grant is made possible through funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act as administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources. The website is hosted by the UNCG Libraries’ Department of Electronic Resources and Information Technology.

For more information, please contact David Gwynn, digital projects coordinator for the UNCG University Libraries at 336.256.2606 or jdgwynn@uncg.edu.

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