Workshop discusses 35,000-record Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database

Tracing the various routes of slavery is the goal of Voyages, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, which has records of over 35,000 voyages and is the topic of an upcoming workshop hosted by York’s Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples and the African Economic History journal.

“Documenting where people came from in Africa during the era of transatlantic slavery is essential in terms of understanding the background of African peoples and the impact of slavery on their descendants,” says Paul Lovejoy, York Distinguished Research Professor in African history and director of the Harriet Tubman Institute.

“This workshop analyzes the latest tools in charting the movement of ships that carried enslaved Africans to the Americas. We want to discuss in particular the impact of this forced demographic migration on the different parts of Africa."

Right: Map from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Voyages Databas detailing some of the slave trade routes

The one-day Slave Voyage Database and African Economic History workshop will take place Monday, May 3, starting at 8:30am in the Founders Senior Common Room, 305 Founders College, Keele campus. A reception will follow at 6:15pm.

Speakers will discuss and debate the relevance of the database to an understanding of African economic history. Lovejoy, a member of the Advisory Board for the database, will deliver the opening address, “Memories of the Formation of a Collaboratory on the Migration of African Peoples”. Later in the morning, he’ll discuss “What Happened to the Upper Guinea Coast in the Voyage Database?”

Trent University history Professor Ivana Elbl will talk about “The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database and the Sixteenth-Century Portuguese Slave Trade”, while history Professor Jelmer Vos of Old Dominion University will present “The Growth of the Atlantic Slave Trade on the Windward Coast of Africa”.

Left: Paul Lovejoy

Topics in the afternoon will range from “Transatlantic Slave Trade from Bight of Biafra to Brazil, 1750-1850” and “The Supply of Slaves from Luanda, 1768-1806: Records of Anselmo da Fonseca Coutinho” to "Re-examining the Slave Trade on the West Central African Coast: Looking Behind the Numbers", “The Juan Francisco Cascales Shipping Registries: Methodological Problems with the African Names Database” and “Extending the Database of African Names: New Evidence from Sierra Leone”.

The proceedings will be published as a special issue of African Economic History, which is co-edited by Lovejoy, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History, and York history Professor José Curto.

For more information about the workshop,  download this PDF or visit the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples Web site. For more information about the database, visit Voyages, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database Web site.