SlaveVoyages Introduction

A Retrospective and What’s Next

Sept. 30, 2022, 9:55 a.m.

Jane Hooper

Associate Professor

Front Page News

The SlaveVoyages website offers records about the origins and forced transportation of more than twelve million Africans across the Atlantic and within the Americas. This ever-evolving website is the collaborative effort of dozens of researchers working in libraries and archives around the world. The work of several prominent historians, including Herbert S. Klein, David Richardson, David Eltis, and Stephen Behrendt, was foundational to the creation and expansion of the database over a period of decades. In 2008, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database was first made freely available online, thanks to the efforts of David Eltis in collaboration with a multidisciplinary and international team of scholars, programmers, librarians, and designers. The database has been repeatedly refreshed and expanded to reflect new research findings and the user interface was modernized from 2015-2018. For a more detailed account of the project's history, please click here.

In 2020, the Intra-American Slave Trade Database was added to the SlaveVoyages website. This database offers insight into the experiences of those who survived the Middle Passage across the Atlantic and were forced to board subsequent vessels soon after arriving at a port in the Americas. In 2021, a new section of the website, People of the Atlantic Slave Trade, was released. This section contains the African Origins Database, a list of nearly 100,000 Africans liberated from slaving vessels during the last sixty years of the transatlantic slave trade, as well as the Oceans of Kinfolk Database. The Oceans of Kinfolk Database provides the names of more than 63,000 people who were forcibly trafficked to New Orleans, along with information about their voyages and captors.

Given the complexity of the website, SlaveVoyages requires considerable energy and financial support to maintain. In 2021, a consortium of six member institutions was formed to support the efforts of SlaveVoyages. The now eight member institutions are Emory University (the original host institution), Rice University (the new hosting institution), the University of California campuses at Berkeley, Irvine, and Santa Cruz, Harvard University, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History & Culture, the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill, Barbados, and Washington University. This model of support and guidance will help ensure the sustainability of the website, while partnerships with these institutions, such as with the University of West Indies at Cave Hill, will encourage the site to explore new directions and help broaden access to archival materials.  

This blog will offer perspectives on how information found in the databases can be used in a variety of settings and by teachers, students, researchers, and members of the public. We will release regular blog postings written by a variety of contributors. Among other topics, the blog posts will offer information about updates to the site, suggest ways in which educators can make use of the site, and reveal how the databases have influenced the work of scholars.


Additional References:

 David Eltis, "The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database: Origins, Development, Content," Journal of Slavery and Data Preservation 2, no. 3 (2021).

Gregory E. O'Malley and Alex Borucki, "Patterns in the intercolonial slave trade across the Americas before the nineteenth century," Tempo, 23 (May/Aug 2017): 315-338.