Up in Smoke: Slavery Researchers Pained Over Burning of Historical Records

January 9, 2014

(Post first written on January 4, 2014)

I am fighting back tears and my stomach is in knots. Most people probably wouldn’t have a physical reaction like this upon learning that 100 boxes of old official documents dating from 1840 and languishing in a county courthouse basement in Franklin County, North Carolina were destroyed beginning December 6, 2013, but I do.  They were incinerated at an Animal Pound no less.  Reportedly, it took the whole weekend and a lot of fuel to burn through all the leather bindings.  It also took more than $7,000 taxpayer dollars. I have this pained reaction because historical records are a passion of mine.  They helped me find many of my enslaved ancestors.  As a sort of obsessed family historian, I have driven far distances to research in ancestral towns and spent days in the backrooms and basements of courthouses.  I’ve combed through fragile 200-year old documents and I initiated a project in western Kentucky to try unfold and better preserve records still folded into small bundles like these burned in Franklin County.

Continue reading “Up in Smoke: Slavery Researchers Pained Over Burning of Historical Records”

Up in Smoke: Slavery Researchers Decry Burning of Historical Records

New Post

(Post first written on January 4, 2014)

I am fighting back tears and my stomach is in knots. Most people probably wouldn’t have a physical reaction like this upon learning that 100 boxes of historical documents in Franklin County, North Carolina dating from 1840 were destroyed, but I do.  They were incinerated at an Animal Pound no less.  Reportedly, it took the whole weekend and a lot of fuel to burn these records.  It also took more than $7,000 taxpayer dollars. I have this pained reaction because historical records are a passion of mine.  They helped me find many of my enslaved ancestors.  As a sort of obsessed family historian, for years I have driven far distances to research in ancestral towns and spent days in the backrooms and basements of courthouses.  I’ve combed through fragile 200-year old documents.  I even initiated a volunteer project in western Kentucky to try and unfold and better preserve records still folded into small bundles, like these burned in Franklin County.  Folds in old documents often wears away the fibers in the paper.

Continue reading “Up in Smoke: Slavery Researchers Decry Burning of Historical Records”