A remarkable history of the slave trade

Slave canoe of the 1840s

Slave canoe drawing from The Illustrated London News, 1849; image reference EO22, as shown on www.slaveryimages.org, sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the University of Virginia Library. In West Africa, these canoes were the main vehicles for transporting slaves from the coast to transatlantic vessels. According to The Illustrated London News, the canoes could carry 200 slaves, and were said to be 40ft long, 12ft 7-8ft deep


Intheboatshed.net regular Ed Bachmann has drawn my attention to the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database website, and the recently published prize-winning book Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

The database provided the basis for the atlas in which historians David Eltis and David Richardson have created a comprehensive, 350-year history of kidnapping and coercion featuring nearly 200 maps.

Between 1501 and 1867, the transatlantic slave trade claimed an estimated 12.5 million Africans and involved almost every country with an Atlantic coastline. The extraordinary online Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database includes records of nearly 35,000 slaving voyages, or about 80 per cent of all such voyages ever made. The maps show which nations participated in the trade, where the ships involved were outfitted, where the captives boarded ship, and where they were landed in the Americas, details the experiences of the transatlantic voyages and the eventual abolition of the traffic.

There are also illustrations and contemporary literary selections, including poems, letters, and diary entries that reveal the human story underlying the trade.

If you don’t buy the book, you can read Professor Eltis’s long essay on the website: A Brief Overview of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade on the website.

Thanks for the tipoff Ed!