Transatlantic Slave Voyage Database - Another Big Crack in the Brick Wall

Recently, Emory University in Atlanta posted their "Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database" online. To quote an AP article, this database features "nearly 35,000 trips and the names of 70,000 human cargo."

The posting of this database put a HUGE crack in the brick wall that many African Americans face when trying to trace their genealogy. Most cannot trace back before the 1870 census, which was the first census where former slaves were enumerated. There were census' taken prior (see this write up on the history of prior census'), but slaves names were not included on them. It also must be mentioned that about 10 percent of the African Americans living in the US during slavery were free.

Because of this, most people, like the Atlas Family, have to spend their time piecing together what they know and what they find to reconstruct what happened to their relatives. The piecing together includes scouring census records, local records at the clerk of court office, etc. to see if their are any clues in them that lead one to a last slaveowner. Finding the last slaveowner has been the focus of the 2006, 2007 and 2008 Atlas Family Research Trips.

If someone is able to trace their family back to the generation that came from Africa to the United States, they have a good possibility of locating exactly where in Africa they came from and what the name of the ship was if their ancestor is in this database. The magnitude of this is immeasurable.


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