|Three essays offer an introduction to the
Voyages website in the form of a broad interpretation and overview
of the volume and structure of the trans-Atlantic slave trade from
inception to suppression, an examination of seasonality in the
trans-Atlantic slave trade, and a study of an African liberated
in Cuba from a slave ship captured by a British cruiser in 1826.
Vignettes and research notes focus on more specialized topics.
Other essays will be added as the website develops. The
editorial board will consider
for publication in the “Essays” section any text that uses databases
on the website as a major source.
||Although the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade
Database includes all slave voyages that have been documented up
to now, it cannot claim to be complete. Records of many voyages
have disappeared, in some cases irretrievably, while other
documents remain to be discovered in public and private archives.
The “Estimates,” on the other hand, provide an educated guess of
how large the slave trade actually was. Altogether, the estimates
are about 25 percent higher than unadjusted numbers in the main
database. They raise the final totals to over 12,500,000 Africans
forced to undertake the Middle Passage and around 10,700,000 who
completed it, the largest forced migration in modern history.
||A third way of using the
Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database to interpret the slave trade is
to represent statistics derived from it on historical maps. A
project is now underway to create an atlas of the slave trade
showing cartographically patterns and trends documented in the
database. Yale University Press, the publisher of the atlas, and
Mapping Specialists, Ltd., have given the Voyages website permission
to preview 9 of over 200 maps that will make up the atlas. They
depict the origins of the Atlantic slave trade, its development over
time, how wind and ocean currents shaped its routes, and how it
affected regions and ports in Africa and the Americas.