A new online database details the journeys of millions of slaves. Twelve and a half million slaves were transported from Africa to the United States as early as the 16th Century. For the first time a new free Internet database gives African-Americans the opportunity to explore their African heritage the way whites have long been able to chart their migration from Europe.
Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database is the result of 40 years of research by hundreds of scholars. Two years ago, Emory University researchers, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, began compiling maps, images, and other records of about 35,000 slave-trade voyages from Africa to North America, Brazil, the Caribbean and Europe. It is the first time such a large amount of data on the subject has been available to the public.
"The records for people of Africa and the Americas are better than the records of connections between Europe and the Americas for the simple reason that slaves were property," said David Eltis, a history professor at Emory and a director of the project. "No one cared what happened to free migrants. They did care what happened to slaves, because they were making money from them."
While the database can establish the regions slave ships launched from in Africa and where they arrived in the United States, it generally is impossible to determine which ancestors were on board, researchers said, because the records have African names that were changed when the slaves arrived in North America.
You can read more in the Chicago Tribune at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-slave-trade_bdjan04,0,6302223.story.