High Point Museum Exhibit features Slave Deeds of Guilford County

By Teresa Loflin

The High Point Museum in partnership with the International Civil Rights Center and Museum and the Guilford County Register of Deeds, recently opened a new exhibit, “Bills of Sale: Slave Deeds of Guilford County.” The exhibit, which opened in February for Black History Month, will continue until April 15. 

In 2015, the Register of Deeds made these slave deeds, dating from 1774 to 1826, available online. The deeds show transactions concerning men, women, and children of color. The records provide opportunities to reflect on the inhumanity of the trade in people, but they also open research avenues for those looking for family connections.

“We hope this exhibit will help people appreciate how much information these old documents convey,” Edith Brady, Museum Director, said. “They give us insight into some of the practical realities of slavery long ago, but they also hold keys for African-Americans today who are trying to trace their genealogy.”

Nine deeds are on display and each one has been transcribed. The exhibit includes photos, books and other documents related to the slave deeds.

A section (listed under the Exhibits and Programs tab) on the museum website www.highpointmuseum.org is devoted to this exhibit. Visitors can learn more about this exhibit, all of the programming, schedule a tour and find links to resources for individuals doing family research and for teachers doing class projects.

Many people and organizations contributed to the development of this exhibit at the High Point Museum:

Staff of the Heritage Research Center at the High Point Public Library

  • Lance Wheeler – North Carolina Museums Council Student Intern
  • International Civil Rights Center & Museum staff
  • Jeff Thigpen, Guilford County Registrar of Deeds
  • Elise Allison, Archivist, Greensboro History Museum
  • Lucille Clauson & Mary Beth Jones
  • Bayard Love
  • High Point Historical Society
  • City of High Point staff – Jeron Hollis, Ryan Ferguson, Fanta Dorley, and Worley Smith

Volunteer community advisers also provided input and advice on this project:

  • Mary Browning
  • Glenn Chavis
  • Paul Siceloff
  • Richard Cox, UNC-Greensboro Libraries
  • Dr. Adrienne Israel, Guilford College
  • Gwen Erikson, Friends Historical Collection, Guilford College
  • Dr. Anne E. Parsons, UNC-Greensboro
  • Paul Ringel, High Point University
  • Shawn Rogers, Director, Mendenhall Homeplace
  • Dr. Arwin D. Smallwood, NC A&T University

“We are so appreciative of the many individuals and organizations who contributed their time and expertise over many months to help get this exhibit right,” Brady said. “It’s impossible to include every relevant story or angle, but we’ve done the best we can with the time and resources available to us, and we hope people will be inspired to do more research on their own.”

Teresa Loflin is the Community Relations Director for the High Point Museum. Contact her at 336-883-3022 or email Teresa.loflin@nullhighpointnc.gov.

The High Point Museum, a division of the High Point Public Library, is dedicated to sharing Greater High Point’s history, providing perspective for current issues, and strengthening the sense of community. For more information, visit www.highpointmuseum.org.

Upcoming Museum Programs

March 7, 11 a.m. – noon. Introduction to African-American Geneaology. This class covers the basic steps for getting started on the journey to reconnecting with your ancestors.

March 18, 2-3:30 p.m., Gallery Talk Saturday. Arwin D. Smallwood, Ph.D., Professor and Chair, Department of History, N.C. A & T State University, will discuss his research as it relates to the exhibit. After the presentation, participants can tour the exhibit as well as ask questions.

March 25, 2-4 p.m., Genetic Genealogy: Basic Science and Real Life Studies. Bryana Campbell of 23andMe presents a basic overview of the science behind genetic genealogy. She will introduce participants to the 23andMe DNA test offerings.

April 8, 2-3:30 p.m., Gallery Talk Saturday. Adrienne Israel, Ph.D., African-American Studies, Professor of History at Guilford College, will discuss research as it relates to the exhibit. After the presentation, participants can tour the exhibit as well as ask questions.


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