University Libraries receive state grants to preserve African American history 

Posted on June 19, 2023

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A slavery deed from March 15, 1811. (

UNCG University Libraries received more than $200,000 in grant funding from the State Library of North Carolina to help preserve African American history. The grants are for projects that promote community engagement, provide equitable access, or support responsive organizations.

The Digital Library on American Slavery at UNCG was awarded $113,442 to expand its “People Not Property – Slave Deeds” effort. The unique centralized database of bills of sales index the names of enslaved people from across North Carolina and beyond. “People Not Property – Slave Deeds” is a collaborative effort with the North Carolina Division of Archives and Records, registers of deeds across North Carolina, the Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, and other cultural heritage organizations. The database contains more than 13,000 documents with materials from 17 different North Carolina counties. 

“This funding from the State Library of North Carolina will be invaluable to expand this important work into at least three additional N.C. counties, surfacing the names  and information  of thousands more enslaved people from across the state and building upon the 90,000 people already present within the ‘People Not Property’ project,” says Richard Cox, project director for the Digital Library on American Slavery.  

Another UNCG University Libraries project – “March for Justice: Documenting the Greensboro Massacre” – was awarded $92,535. The project will provide digital access to approximately 50,000 pages of material related to the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, an event in which five protestors were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis.  

“This project grant from the State Library of North Carolina will enable UNCG and Bennett College to collaborate on digitization of thousands of records relating to the 1979 Greensboro Massacre and the subsequent work of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” says David Gwynn, digitation coordinator and associate professor for University Libraries.  

The collections span roughly 48 years, from 1973 to 2021 and document events, actions, and persons connected with the Greensboro Massacre and the short and long-term consequences. 

“The project will make much of this material available to the public for the first time,” says Gwynn. “It includes documents and artifacts from the commission and the detailed personal papers of activist and author Signe Waller Foxworth, whose husband, James Waller, was killed on November 3, 1979.” 

These grants are made possible by funding from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act and are administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (IMLS grant number LS-253645-OLS-23). 

By Avery Craine Powell

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