The history of African Americans is a story of migration, beginning with the transatlantic slave trade that brought an estimated 10 million Africans to the Americas in “the largest forced oceanic migration in the history of the world.” Four times as many enslaved Africans left the Old World than Europeans who sailed to the Americas. The transatlantic slave trade ended in the 1800s, but much continues to be learned about how it was organized and who was involved. Bringing together fifty years’ worth of archival research, a new atlas and database on the transatlantic slave trade present information on 35,000 voyages.
The database includes detail on where the slave ships departed from and where they arrived, as well as the numbers of enslaved people transported, mortality rates (that is, the numbers who died in the Middle Passage from Africa to the Americas), and length of trips. Ports throughout the Atlantic world—from Rhode Island to Charleston, South Carolina—were involved in slave trading, with nearly half of all voyages originating in the Americas, not Europe. In addition to detail of captives’ age and sex, the sources show how specific regions in Africa became linked with particular destination points in the Americas. For example, the area of Senegambia south to Liberia was the source for a large proportion of slaves who were taken to the United States.
Besides the horrors endured by enslaved Africans on the Middle Passage, the story of African American migration includes major voluntary migrations. The experiences of Africans and their descendants were shaped by additional movements within the Americas and within the United States. These movements were spearheaded by men and women whose resourcefulness, creativity, and risk-taking overcame often hostile receptions.
- New Revelations about Slaves and Slave Trade
This article discusses the Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which includes 189 maps cataloging details of the more than three centuries of slave trading.
(Source: CNN, January 5, 2011)
- The Atlantic Slave Trade and Slave Life in the Americas: A Visual Record
This huge collection of images presents a wide-ranging visual record from primary and secondary sources on the lives and experiences of Africans who were enslaved and transported to the Americas and of their descendants; a project of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and the Digital Media Lab at the University of Virginia Library.
(Source: hitchcock.itc.virginia.edu; accessed February 14, 2011)
- In Motion: The African-American Migration Experience
This interactive Web site explores over four centuries of African American history related to migration—from Africa, within the Americas, and within the United States.
(Source: inmotionaame.org; accessed February 14, 2011)