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Feb. 1- Shea Brown, Deputy County Clerk, Digitze Access Project

Posted on Jan 30, 2024

LEXINGTON, KY – The Rotary Club of Lexington held its weekly meeting on Thursday, Feb. 1, at The Mane on Main, Chase Bank building on Main St. The guest speaker was  Shea Brown, Deputy County Clerk, Digitze Access Project.

This meeting will also be on Zoom. For the Zoom link please email, [email protected].

If you would like to have lunch, please contact [email protected] to reserve your meal.

Today Rotarians are privileged to hear from Shea Brown of the Fayette County Clerk’s Office Land Records Department.  His association with that Department goes back almost twenty-four years.  He currently is a Special Projects Deputy in the Land Records Department and is the Supervising Director of the Digital Access Project (DAP) with the Clerk’s Office.

Mr. Brown is a graduate of Lincoln County High School, Stanford, KY and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Legal Studies from Sullivan University, Lexington, Kentucky, and a Diploma in Biblical Studies from the George W. Dupee Bible Institute of the Historic Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church, Lexington, Kentucky.  He has served as Pastor of Pleasant Valley Baptist Church, Lancaster, Kentucky for over sixteen years and he currently serves as the Dean of Religious Education for the Baptist Unified Christian Leadership Conference and South District Missionary Baptist Association. Both of these institutions belong to the General Association of Baptists in Kentucky, an association established after 1865 that is now made up of approximately 500 African American Baptist churches throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.  Mr. Brown is the husband of Marlena and they are blessed with a daughter and two sweet granddaughters. He is the son of Gail Brown.

Per the Fayette County Clerk’s website, the Land Records Department is responsible for recording legal documents as mandated by the Kentucky Revised Statutes.  Those documents include deeds, mortgages, wills, marriage licenses, liens, releases, and corporate records.  Records as old as 1792, the year Kentucky was admitted as the fifteenth state in the still-young nation, can be found in three formats:  in books, on microfilm or digitally imaged in the Department’s computer system.  An online web portal for land records from 1990 to the present – – allows for searching and printing of records via the internet.

They are blessed with a daughter and two sweet granddaughters. He is the son of Gail Brown. 

   Rotary in Review


Last week’s speaker was Mr. Shea Brown, Deputy Fayette County Clerk who, along with the University of Kentucky’s Dr. Vanessa Holden, leads the project known as the Digital Access Project (DAP). DAP is an initiative of the University of Kentucky’s Commonwealth Institute for Black Studies, Lexington Black Prosperity Initiative, and the Fayette County Clerk’s Office. Funding for DAP is provided by the Blue Grass Community Foundation (BGCF) and the Knight Foundation Donor Advised Fund at BGCF. Since its inception, the project has brought to light more than 70,000 pages of records spanning from the late 1700s through 1865 and counting.

DAP launched on May 23, 2022 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.

Brown shared that many of these books include deed records identifying names of enslaved people who were “sold, purchased, transferred, 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 contain various information about enslaved people.”

Brown stated that thanks to DAP “My name (referencing enslaved and emancipated people) will forever be remembered and honored and to show the world that yes, I am really free.”

Fayette County is one of only two counties in the United States to have started the process of digitizing public records and Brown hopes Fayette County will serve as a model and resource for other counties across the country as they begin similar processes.

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.  DAP will create the best possible digitized images for the public’s viewing.

DAP was 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.

DAP is a groundbreaking process which is revolutionizing the way we access public records, and for families of people formally enslaved, it is helping them connect the dots of their ancestry and in some cases, bring a sense of closure.

Such a powerful and inspirational presentation. We are blessed to have leaders like Shae Brown, Vanessa Holden, and their talented team leading the charge on this imperative initiative.

  • Dan Koett
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