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Transatlantic Slaving


A Conference Sponsored by The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute of Afro-American and African Studies at Harvard University, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation,the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

Cooperating Institutions

  • The Carter G. Woodson Institute for Afro-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia
  • The Nigerian Hinterland Project, York University, Canada
  • The Southern Historical Collection and The Center for the Study of the American South of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities


The conference “Transatlantic Slaving and the African Diaspora: Using the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute Dataset of Slaving Voyages” will mark Cambridge University Press’s CD-ROM publication of a database containing information on 27,205 slave trading voyages between 1588 and 1867. Drawn from the research of an international array of scholars working in nine different languages in dozens of Atlantic basin archives, the material encompassess between two-thirds and three-quarters of all the transatlantic slave voyages attempted between the late sixteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries. The capstone of an international research effort that began in the 1960s, this compilation, made possible by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, constitutes the largest dataset on slave shipping and forced migration before the mid-nineteenth century and promises to be a major tool in improving our undertanding of the African diaspora and Atlantic history.

The primary aim of the conference is to reassess the impact of the transatlantic slave trade on four continents in light of the new information that is now available in the dataset. The meeting has been devised to explore a variety of citical themes raised by the data. Among these are the volume and distribution of the trade, age and sex structure of the slave traffic, ethnic links between Africa and the Americas, the shipboard experience, including mortality patterns of slaves and crews of slave ships, ship sizes, length of voyages, and related matters, African resistance both on the coast and on ship, and the consequences of the trade for Africa and the Americas. The conference will also feature a computer workshop that will demonstrate the multiple uses and research potential of the database.

The program, organized by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute of Afro-American and African Studies at Harvard Univeristy, reflects the international scope of the subject through the participation of scholars from universities in Africa, Australia, Europe, and the Americas. There is no registration fee for the conference, but persons who plan to attend should fill out and return the registration form included with this brochure.