In August 2021, the SlaveVoyages website published new data contributed by users through the contributor’s interface over the past two years. The website seeks to function like an academic journal, where contributions of information proceed through an editorial process enabling the editors to verify the data. The launching of the Intra-American Slave Trade Database, with the new layout of the website in March 2019, was the last time such publication happened. This is the first time that such publication of new data has taken place under the new Consortium managing the website, hosted by Rice University.
The new publication includes edited data on 356 slave voyages that were already in the datasets, on 38 cases in which two or three records of voyages were merged into a single consolidated entry (for instance when records produced in different years of the same voyage made it look as they were two different voyages), and finally, on the addition of 221 new voyages that were not previously entered in the datasets.
Almost one hundred voyages to the Spanish Americas between 1579 and 1585 were edited to reflect new information provided by David Wheat from the Biblioteca de Ajuda (Lisbon, Portugal). Previously, we thought these ships were disembarking captives solely in the Spanish Americas. However, the evidence points out that these ships departed from Europe with intended places of embarkation of captives in Angola and São Tomé but lacking further information of where they were intending to disembark these Africans in the Iberian World. That is why now these voyages are marked as intending to disembark captives in “Iberian World, port unspecified,” thus in territories of Spain and Portugal, either in the Americas or Europe. This is part of a long process of entering new data on the early Spanish Americas, which will provide previously unknown voyages by the next publications of the SlaveVoyage datasets.
Nearly one hundred voyages were also edited to identify the place of disembarkation for ships that were previously documented departing the British or Dutch Caribbean with only a vaguely stated destination of the mainland Spanish Americas. Using sources from the Archivo General de Indias (AGI, Seville) and the Archivo General de la Nación (AGN Colombia), Alex Borucki and Spencer Gomez were able to identify the disembarkation of these vessels in mostly Cartagena (today Colombia) and Portobelo (now Panama) from the mid to late eighteenth century.
The addition of new slave voyages mainly relates to the research done with the support of the ACLS Digital Extension Grants. Digitized sources in the section “Blacks and Slaves” from the AGN Colombia allowed Spencer Gomez to enter additional one hundred voyages carrying captives mostly from the British Caribbean to Cartagena and Portobelo, particularly during the decades between 1740 and 1770. In addition, Gomez entered another set of nearly one hundred voyages with data provided by José Belmonte on slave arrival in Cartagena and Portobelo as well, between 1791 and 1797. This list was produced by colonial authorities in Cartagena to be sent to Spain, and that is why this list is located at the AGI in Seville.
This is the continuation of ongoing efforts at better documenting the early transatlantic slave trade to the Americas as well as the overall traffic of captives to the Spanish colonies.
Author: Alex Borucki