Emory University Begins New Effort to Trace the African Origins of Black Slaves Transported to the New World

Emory University in Atlanta maintains a vast online database containing information on nearly 35,000 voyages made during the African slave trade. Included in this research are the names of 67,000 Africans from the manifests of slave ships and in other documents relating to the slave trade.

Now researchers at Emory have begun a new project to trace the African origins of the 67,000 people identified in the Emory database. David Eltis, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of History at Emory, says that the names provide valuable clues as to the language or dialect spoken by the individual, which helps to narrow down where he or she lived prior to being captured for sale as a slave. Emory is seeking volunteers who are familiar with African dialects and naming practices to offer their views on the possible geographic origin of the people named on the ships’ manifests and in other documents relating to the slave trade.