Home Cd rom Barbados, Emory, Harvard, Rice, USC and others join forces to advance the study of transatlantic slavery

Barbados, Emory, Harvard, Rice, USC and others join forces to advance the study of transatlantic slavery


The University of the West Indies has partnered with Emory, Harvard, Rice, University of California, National Museum of African American History and Culture.

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This also includes the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture as a consortium member of SlaveVoyages, the leading online resource for the study of the trade of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic.

The database, which is managed and operated by the consortium, has played a vital role in expanding access to archival records – including ship records, sales records and registered names of Africans released, among many other documents – related to traffic.

The University will work with SlaveVoyages to advance research and study of Barbados’ archives, comprising tens of millions of documents recounting the harrowing stories of individuals captured in Africa, brought by boat to Barbados and sold to slavers colonials on the island and across the Americas.

The digitization of the Barbados Archives is a foundational project of the Barbados Heritage District for which the University is a key educational partner.

Designed by David Adjaye (who designed the new Studio Museum in Harlem), the Barbados Heritage District will include a memorial and a world-leading research institute to house the archives in a museum located at Newton Plantation outside the nation’s capital.

Planning has begun to upgrade an existing facility that will support the massive digitization process of these archival materials, which is expected to take five years, in collaboration with global digitization technology partners.

The archives will then be moved for permanent storage and continued preservation in a new heritage center planned for the Barbados Heritage District.

The Barbados Heritage District is being developed under the leadership of Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, QC, MP, under the auspices of the ROAD (Reclaiming Our Atlantic Destiny) project, a multi-faceted initiative designed to transform the identity and the economy of Barbados, providing access to the island nation’s history, creating job growth and catapulting research and technological innovation.

“The inclusion of the University of the West Indies as the first non-US member of the SlaveVoyages consortium marks an important next step in advancing the ROAD project and the Barbados Heritage District,” Prime Minister Mottley said. “The ROAD Project was designed to deepen awareness and education around Barbadian history as it advances broader socio-economic goals. The work being done by SlaveVoyages will bring new insight into these difficult, but immeasurably important stories, as we continue to chart the future of our new republic.

Consortium member Dr Henry Louis Gates Jr, who is a professor at Alphonse Fletcher University and director of Harvard’s Hutchins Center, said: “The remarkable breadth of the SlaveVoyages database has grown exponentially since its launch. over ten years ago. He is now set to extend his records even further from this globally significant business from Barbados. The impact of the ROAD Project will be seismic, in its provision of detailed records of the trade in enslaved people both on the island nation and across the Americas.

“It is fitting that the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies located in Barbados be invited as the first external member of this important group of American universities that focus on the history and pedagogy of the transatlantic slave trade.Barbados was one of the first and largest markets for enslaved African labor in the Americas; the first colony to be home to Africans as the largest social demographic group and the first country to enact a comprehensive slave code in which Africans were considered non-humans and property forever,” said Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies. “The Cave Hill campus was built in the mid-20th century in an environment historically developed as plantations using enslaved African labor and the campus now houses the only building in the Americas inspired by r the West African architectural motif of the Ashanti Golden Stool, the resting place of the spirits of deceased ancestors. This constitutes an affirmation by the campus that the roots and heritage of SlaveVoyages have been taken to the highest level of spiritual reflection and representation.

“The Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies is very pleased to be invited as a member of the SlaveVoyages consortium, the first non-American institution to be so honored. This comes at an opportune time in the history of Barbados, as the world’s newest republic takes on global leadership roles in the discourse on slavery and reparations,” said Professor Clive Landis, pro-vice -Chancellor and Director of the Cave University of the West Indies. Hill Campus. “UWI’s Cave Hill Campus will work collaboratively to deploy its research expertise to help analyze, publish and disseminate the records and artefacts of slavery held at the Barbados Department of Records and in our own special collections. Our research will add value to the ambitious digitization project undertaken as part of the ROAD project. »

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“Anyone who searches the SlaveVoyages website for traffic to and from Barbados will find that the sources documenting this forced movement come almost exclusively from archives in Europe and North America,” said Dr. Daniel Domingues da Silva, associate professor of history at Rice University and host of the SlaveVoyages website. “This situation must not last. Now that Barbados has become a republic, it wants to open its archives and make its contents known to the world. SlaveVoyages offers an ideal means to this end, but this work will only make sense if Barbadian researchers are involved.


The origins of SlaveVoyages date back to the 1960s when historians began researching data on the number of enslaved Africans who crossed the Atlantic between the 16and and 19and centuries.

This data was eventually compiled on a CD-ROM released in 1999 and, in 2008, launched as a website hosted by Emory University.

In March 2021, the SlaveVoyages Consortium was formed, dedicated to the preservation and development of what has become the most widely used online resource for the study of slavery across the Atlantic world.

Consortium members include the Emory Center for Digital Scholarship, the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture at William & Mary, Rice University, and three University of California campuses that will assume joint membership: UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, and UC Berkeley.

The website is currently hosted at Rice University, powered by Oracle for Research.

Barbados Archives

The Barbados Archives include tens of millions of pages of documents on the transatlantic slave trade that trace the harrowing stories of countless women, men and children captured in Africa, brought by boat to Barbados and sold to colonial slavers on the ‘Isle. and throughout the Americas.

Articulating Barbados’ national identity and dating back almost 400 years, these documents – which include ship registers, sales records, marriage licenses and postage papers, among many other documents and records – constitute one of the largest catalogs in the world of the British transatlantic. Slave trade.

Its digitization will enable Barbados to authoritatively map its history in a lasting, healing and powerful way, unearthing yet-undiscovered heritage embedded in age-old artifacts revealing Barbados’ history and trajectory into the future.

The ROAD Project and the Barbados Heritage District

Commissioned by the Office of the Prime Minister of Barbados, the ROAD (Reclaiming Our Atlantic Destiny) project is designed to transform Barbados’ identity and economy, providing unprecedented access to the island nation’s history, by creating job opportunities, boosting tourism and helping to catapult research and technological innovation to deepen the new parliamentary republic’s ties with other nations of the world.

Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, QC, MP, described the ROAD project as “a moral imperative and an economic necessity” for Barbados, and one of the most important projects ever undertaken since the country’s independence.

The ROAD project is led by the Prime Minister’s Office in collaboration with the ESAIYO/LMI Consortium, comprised of experts in relevant disciplines and Barbadian institutions, including the University of the West Indies, the Department of Archives, and the Museum and Society Barbados history.

The Barbados Heritage District is being developed under the leadership of Prime Minister Mottley, under the auspices of the Roads Project, and is dedicated to accurately telling the historical and contemporary impact of slavery on Barbados and the lives of individuals, cultures and nations in the Western Hemisphere.

Announced in December 2021 following Barbados’ transition to the Parliamentary Republic, the district is designed by David Adjaye (who completed the new Studio Museum in Harlem) and will include a memorial, a major global research institute and a museum , located at Newton Plantation outside of Bridgetown.

Collectively, the resources and institutions that are part of the district will serve as a cornerstone and catalyst for the continued development of Barbados’ independent identity, culture and place on the world stage.

Photo credit: a selection of documents from the Barbados Archives, which will become publicly available online as part of SlaveVoyages.