Michigan State University Receives $1.47 Million To Create Online Slave Trade Database

Michigan State University will receive a grant for almost $1.5 million to create an online database allowing folks to search records of millions of enslaved people and their descendants. This will be an amazing resource for genealogists, historians and African Americans who are interested in knowing more about their ancestry.

MSU recently announced a $1.47 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which will facilitate the project, “Enslaved: The People of the Historic Slave Trade,” an online hub that links data collections from multiple universities on slavery and enslaved people, reported MSU Today.

By linking data collections from multiple universities, the website will allow people to search millions of pieces of slave data to identify enslaved individuals and their descendants from a central source. Users can also run analyses of enslaved populations and create maps, charts and graphics.

“‘Enslaved’ brings new digital tools and analytical approaches to the study of African slavery and the Atlantic slave trade,” said project co-investigator Walter Hawthorne, a professor and chair of MSU’s department of history. “By linking data compiled by some of the world’s foremost historians, it will allow scholars and the public to learn about individuals’ lives and to draw new, broad conclusions about processes that had an indelible impact on the world.”

Hawthorne says it will allow schools to teach a more comprehensive view of slavery, “So anyone in the K-12 school system who’s interested in studying slavery and the Atlantic slave trade will be able to use this for classroom purposes,” Hawthorne said.

Hawthorne says it will be another year and a half or so before the database is up and running.