RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Thousands of old North Carolina court documents — some going back 350 years — could soon be more accessible to the public thanks in part to a federal grant.

The State Archives of North Carolina is getting $140,000 toward a project designed to expand an online catalog that helps historians and other citizens know names and places within hard-to-decipher records. An improved index means they'll know which documents they want to go read in person.

State Archivist Sarah Koonts says the documents shed light on early North Carolina society and include wills and estates and bridge and road information.

A sample of these documents will be posted online as part of the project. Workshops will be held for participants to learn how to transcribe the documents' elegant cursive handwriting.

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