About 12.5 million slaves were transported across the Atlantic between 1501 and 1867, and charting who they were, where they came from and where they went has been a challenge for historians. Authors of the Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, this year’s winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Nonfiction, will talk about these challenges and potential solutions during a talk at Case Western Reserve University.
Authors David Eltis, the Robert W. Woodruff Professor of History at Emory University; and David Richardson, professor of economic history and director of the Wilberforce Institute for the Study of Slavery and Emancipation at Hull University in England, will deliver the lecture, “Digital Scholarship and the African Diaspora.”
Their free, public talk begins at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 14, in 309 Clark Hall, 11130 Bellflower Road. The event is cosponsored by Case Western Reserve University’s Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, administered by the Cleveland Foundation.
In the 1960s, historians began studying the slave trade in earnest. They collected information from unpublished sources—such documents as shipping company and port records—and then used technology to store new information.
By the 1980s, individual researchers had accumulated large databases. Eltis and Richardson had worked independently on projects related to the slave trade and amassed information for some of the nearly 30,000 slave voyages.
In the 1990s, they decided to combine their efforts and house their information in one database that they would eventually call The Voyage. The project caught on with researchers interested in the study of the slave trade and contributing to the database, and now provides an expansive picture of the slave trade from British to Spanish and Portuguese ports.
Eltis and Richardson tell The Voyage story—the project and the slaves’ experience—in their award-winning book.