Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Slave Records Online

Every now and then you find that true 'gem' that historians look for.

I was listening to a podcast of the iTunes series Colonial and Revolutionary America from Stanford University, featuring Professor Jack Rakove, this past weekend.

In the podcast titled From African to African American, Rakove mentioned that slave records encompassing the trade from Africa to the Americas could be found online.

A quick search on the Internet provided the link for a fabulous site, chuck full of primary resources on the slave trade. Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database was a project of Emory University.

According to an online article from Futurity, the Voyages site is the result of a two-year project by David Eltis and Martin Halbert to collect and digitize the records.

A variety of searches are available at the Voyages site. A visitor can search by particular voyage number (the first voyage listed was the 1817 journey of the Pastora de Lima); examine estimates of slave trade (dating back to 1501); or explore the African names database (with over 67,000 African names). According to the site, the database has information n almost 35,000 slaving voyages.

This is a great tool to use in discussion with students on the extent of the slave trade, as well as where the slaves went to (no, Virginia, they did not all go to the southern United States...). This discussion can be centered on the ESP-C approach - economic, social, political, and cultural aspects and effects of slavery on three continents.

Plan of the British Slave Ship "Brookes," 1789, Image Reference E014, University of Virginia Library
African Diaspora, Image Reference MILLERENC2, University of Virginia Library

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