Digital Access Project

The University of Kentucky's Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies, the Lexington Black Prosperity Initiative, and the Fayette County Clerk's office is proud to present the Digital Access Project (DAP). Funded by the Blue Grass Community Foundation and the Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund at Blue Grass Community Foundation, the project will bring to light more than 91,000 pages of records, in 176 books, spanning from the late 1700s through 1865 and forward. Many of these books include deed records identifying names of enslaved people who were sold, purchased, transferred, conveyed, auctioned off, or even emancipated, deed and mortgage records of enslaved people who were used as collateral to secure a debt, and wills, estate appraisements, settlements, inventory or other probate records including enslaved people as part of an estate, and county court orders which list fugitives as runaways and also contain other various information about enslaved people.

On May 23, 2022, this project kicked off by digitizing the first General Index Book to Deeds and Mortgages, and will continue until each page from all books identified as deeds, wills, burnt records, county court orders, Declaration of Marriage Books, historic Fayette County surveys, and their indexes are digitized. The Digitization Project is taking place on site at the Fayette County Clerk's office. 

The process of digitizing these records presents many challenges, including adjusting heavy-sized books on the scanner, variability in the ink, print, or handwriting quality from page to page or even on the same page, going from light to dark print, page color, page spots or spills, torn pages, page number discrepancies, cropping issues due to text being written at an angle, difficulties capturing words written into the page gutters, and particulate from deteriorating pages. Our work will create the best possible digitized images for the public's viewing. Please continue to visit our website at as we work to upload all the images. To find records that have not yet been made available online, please visit the Fayette County Clerk's office from 8:00am-4:30pm, Monday through Friday at 162 E. Main, Room 132, Lexington, KY 40507. We appreciate your continued support as we work to fulfill our goal to make Fayette County's history digitally accessible. DAP is the proud recipient of the 2023 Barbara Hulette Award presented by the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation for its efforts in preserving Central Kentucky's history, heritage, built environment, sense of community or significant endeavors.

Project images

BookeyeScanner4, used for scanning the records

BookeyeScanner4 in action

DAP interns scanning deed books

Index Book

Notice spotting and page discoloration

Project Director Shea Brown viewing the index books

Deed Book B COCT

Deed Book B COCT with page stain

Deed Book C DTCT. This book is difficult to capture all the writing due to page gutter

C.M. Clay - Emancipated his slaves, June 8, 1845

Clay, Deed of Emancipation


Online Portal Instructions

Glossary of Terms and Useful Information

In additional to having the index books available, some books have an alpha index located in the front. These index pages are scanned at the end of the book after the last page number.