Diaspora Database
December 19, 2008 7:06 AM   Subscribe

Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database documents the slave trade from Africa to the New World between the 16th and 19th centuries. It provides searchable information on almost 35,000 trans-Atlantic voyages hauling human cargo, as well as maps, images and data on some individual Africans transported." Search for people. Search for voyages.

NYTimes: ''It's not a super tool for genealogists because you cannot make that connection from ancestor to voyager, but it does give a context,'' he said, explaining that because the database lists the slaves' African names -- which were later Westernized -- researching an ancestor by name is difficult. [via]
posted by cashman (18 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
No Kunta Kinte.
posted by stbalbach at 7:53 AM on December 19, 2008

Correction: there are two "Okuntah" who came over in 1826 and 7. But to Sierra Leone so probably not Alex Haley's Kuntah.
posted by stbalbach at 7:57 AM on December 19, 2008

No captains, crew, or owners share my last name.
posted by john m at 8:13 AM on December 19, 2008

Interesting stuff, and thanks for posting. For better or worse, I've become the family's de facto genealogist having once made the mistake of expressing an interest. I was immediately inundated with shoeboxes of material from all over the place, and organizing it all has been an on-again, off-again hobby. There are always the brick walls and gaps in history, and they can be frustrating. Online search tools have made it a little easier, to be sure.

But to do family research knowing full well that there will be a point (and in genealogical terms, it's really quite close) beyond which there will simply be no information at all save the results of DNA testing that might place ancestry to a particular region...it beggars my imagination.
posted by jquinby at 8:35 AM on December 19, 2008

It never occurred to me there'd be specific records of particular boats. But of course merchants kept records of their transactions. Horrifying, but also interesting and valuable. It reminds me a lot of the record keeping of Holocaust survivors only having to be collected without any surviving people to supplement the paper records.

The site has a bit more info on the database. 34,941 voyages in the database which they guess is 65-80% of all slave trading voyages.
posted by Nelson at 8:42 AM on December 19, 2008

Wow what a resource..I wish that I knew more about my family history so that I could tap into this.
posted by dominica at 9:15 AM on December 19, 2008

I never realized that traffic to North America represented such a relatively small percentage of the slave trade—about 400,000 of the 10.7 million documented here.
posted by stargell at 10:49 AM on December 19, 2008

This is terrific—thanks for the post.

No Kunta Kinte.

There never was any Kunta Kinte. The whole thing was bullshit:
"Virtually every genealogical claim in Haley's story was false," Nobile has written. None of Haley's early writing contains any reference to his mythic ancestor, "the African" named Kunta Kinte. Indeed, Haley's later notes give his family name as "Kante," not "Kinte."

And a long-suppressed tape of the famous session in which Haley " found" Kunta Kinte through the recitation of an African "griot" proves that, as BBC producer James Kent noted, "the villagers [were] threatened by members of Haley's party. These turn out to be senior government officials desperate to ensure that things go smoothly."

Haley, added Kent, "specifically asks for a story that will fit his predetermined American narrative."

Historical experts who checked Haley's genealogical research discovered that, as one put it, "Haley got everything wrong in his pre-Civil War lineage and none of his plantation ancestors existed; 182 pages have no basis in fact."
posted by languagehat at 11:21 AM on December 19, 2008

Really - did you have to link to a website hosted by stormfront?? Or at least linking to stormfront proudly?
posted by cashman at 11:50 AM on December 19, 2008

Comparing the map of slave trade to what I learned in school in the 1970s and 1980s, it appeared the U.S.-centric curricula did a tremendous disservice, basically teaching me that all the slaves from Africa ended up in the U.S. I wonder if there was some agenda behind that lopsided teaching. Now that I'm much older I'm wanting to find out what happened in South America that brought so many of them down there.
posted by crapmatic at 11:57 AM on December 19, 2008

Are you talking to me? If that's a stormfront website, could an admin please delete the link? The quote is from a newspaper story, and obviously I didn't know martinlutherking.org was a racist site (if in fact it is).
posted by languagehat at 12:02 PM on December 19, 2008

In any case, Haley's story is bullshit; there are plenty of sources for that information.
posted by languagehat at 12:03 PM on December 19, 2008

[removed link to weird racist site, letft the post, hope that's ok]
posted by jessamyn at 12:22 PM on December 19, 2008

FWIW, the wikipedia entry on Roots mentions the contraversy.
posted by jquinby at 12:26 PM on December 19, 2008

I loved the information, languagehat - just not that site.
posted by cashman at 12:27 PM on December 19, 2008

Thank you for this. Over the years I have assembled many files both electronic and paper of the trading voyages and ships of one particular Liverpool family which by its nature I believe incomplete and this resource will help fill out my data. Many voyage details are to found at the PRO at Kew in London. These also have crew muster lists, but little or no information on the Human Cargo except declared destination from England on departure (Africa and Jamaica / Calabar and Grenada etc and then reentry on return. The muster lists note against the crew names (over 4000) such facts as discharged dead; run; taken by the French; blown up with vessel; pressed. This resource will put me back to work again.
posted by adamvasco at 12:37 PM on December 19, 2008

Yeah, as a black studies major this stuff mirrors everything I've learned about in the university. Great great find, thank you.
posted by saxamo at 12:54 PM on December 19, 2008

Now that I'm much older I'm wanting to find out what happened in South America that brought so many of them down there.
posted by crapmatic at 2:57 PM

I believe the death rates for the slaves were much higher in South America so they were always bringing in more people. Sadly, the fact that African slaves in North America maintained relatively good health and reproduced was used as justification that slavery was good for the "savages."
posted by marxchivist at 2:02 PM on December 19, 2008

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