Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

slave voyages

Project Overview

Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database presents a single, multisource data set gleaned from original documents and historical publications about some 36,000 slave voyages that occurred between 1514 and 1866, when slave traders forced 12.5 million Africans aboard transatlantic slave vessels in the largest forced oceanic migration in human history.

Each record in the Voyages database offers information on a single slaving voyage. Details include the country of origin, the individual(s) who sponsored it, the voyage itself (its itinerary, dates of travel, and outcome), captains and crew members, slaves transported, and the sources providing this voyage information.

The current site, which is continually updated as an active research project, is the latest iteration of a long-running scholarly undertaking. Recent additions include:

  • A system for visitors to contribute new data
  • An animation feature that helps bring into clearer focus the scale and duration of the trade
  • New data on more than a thousand voyages
  • Revised details on many other voyages

The project works in parallel with the African Origins database, which invites users to identify the likely backgrounds of nearly 100,000 Africans liberated from slave vessels based on their indigenous names. By combining those names with information from Voyages on liberated Africans’ ports of origin, the Origins website aims to better understand the homelands from which enslaved people came.

Project Highlights

Component
Details
Campus Partners

Department of History

Library and Information Technology Services (LITS)

Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Robert W. Woodruff Library

Community Partners

Cambridge University Press

Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Universities:

  • Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
  • Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation | University of Hull (UK)
  • Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand)
  • Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples | York University (Canada)

Yale University Press

Funding

Casa de Rui Barbosa Foundation (Brazil)

W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research | Harvard University

Emory University

National Endowment for the Humanities

Project Contacts Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database | voyages@emory.edu
Technology

Apache

Django

MySQL

PHP

Key Contributions

ECDS projects contribute to Emory University's mission through research, pedagogy, publishing, and public scholarship.

Component
Description
Research The Voyages project represents an active research endeavor, creating a dynamic, interdiscpliniary resource developed through contributions and insights of scholars around the world over decades. Additional experts consult the database for their research.
Pedagogy The website provides an open access learning resource. Teachers and students use the site in the classroom, and the site shares lesson plans that teachers have created for middle school, high school, and college students.
Public Scholarship

Digital projects make it possible to reach a much larger audience with more diverse interests. Digital history encourages visitors to interact with sources and materials that they might not otherwise be able to access. Individuals report consulting the project to better understand their heritage. Site visitors can submit new material on transatlantic slave voyages and help identify errors in the data.