Emory University Unveils New African Origins Website

Recently, Emory University unveiled a new website that seeks to identify the origins of a group of Africans transported on slave ships to the New World in the 1819 to 1845 period. The African Origins website contains information on more than 9,000 Africans who were enslaved but later freed by the Courts of Mixed Commission in Havana, Cuba, and Freetown, Sierra Leone.

Researchers G. Ugo Nwokeji of the University of California at Berkeley and David Eltis of Emory University took the names from ships’ registers and made recordings of the names as they were likely pronounced by officials in Havana and Freetown. They then played these recordings to linguistics experts in an effort to identify the African origins of people who were on these ships.

Having achieved limited success, Nwokeji and Eltis have now listed the names of all the people on the ships and the sound recordings of their names in an effort to enlist the assistance of scholars worldwide in the effort to determine the African origins of the people on these ships. Visitors to the site can browse through a list of names, hear how they are pronounced, and can fill out an online form if they have any information that will help researchers determine where in Africa these people originated.