Digital Access Project

The University of Kentucky's Commonwealth Institute of 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 Bluegrass Community Foundation and the Knight Foundation, the project will bring to light the more than 60,000 pages of records spanning from the late 1700s through 1865. Many of these books include deed records identifying names of enslaved people who were sold, purchased, 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.

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 137 books identified as deeds, wills, burnt records, 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 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.

Project images

BookeyeScanner4, used for scanning the records

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