90,000 19th century African slave names now online


Image: By BiztechAfrica
90,000 19th century African slave names now online

The African-Origins (http://www.african-origins.org) website at Emory University, launched last year with the names of 10,000 Africans who were liberated from the slave trade in the 19th century, has added the names of more than 80,000 African captives to the site, making it the largest and most comprehensive record of the identity of individuals caught up in the slave trade to the Americas.

With this latest information now accessible, researchers again are inviting those who might recognize African names "to tell us which modern country, language and culture still uses the name today," says David Eltis, Woodruff Professor of History and leader of the project.

Eltis and researchers will then use the identifications made by visitors to the site to construct a geographic profile of the origins of African captives. With the new information, "for the first time we will be able to see not only where slaves left the African coast, but the probable location within Africa where their forced journey to the Americas began," Eltis says.

For most of the duration of the slave trade, once a person was forced onto a slaving vessel, "her identity and history became effectively lost," says Eltis. But after the slave trade was outlawed in 1807, authorities began intercepting illegal slave transports, and for the first time, maritime courts recorded the African captives' true names, sometimes more than once. 

Registers containing information on more than 90,000 individuals survived in the national archives of Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom, and it is these records that Eltis and a team of researchers have been painstakingly recreating in both written and audio form on the website.

The names in the expanded database comprise a record of well over half of all captives removed from slave ships in the 19th century. They represent every major language and ethnic group caught up in the forced migration of millions of people out of Africa after 1807.

"The database contains the names and records of Africans found on board 515 different slave vessels captured between 1808 and 1862," says Eltis. "There are records of captives leaving from and arriving at every significant slaving port on either side of the Atlantic. In short, it covers every major link between African and the Americas during the last six decades of the transatlantic slave traffic."

Because African languages had no written form at that time, the spelling of names was listed phonetically. The same name could appear in the records with different spellings, and researchers have provided up to three alternative renditions (together with recordings of their pronunciations) on the website to increase the accuracy of the identification.

Visitors to African-Origins.org are invited to search for a specific African name that they know, select a country or countries, then hit the Explore button to see if the name exists on the site. Once they find the name, they can hear several different pronunciations of it and see a list of individuals with that name, along with other information such as age, gender and sometimes other personal details or country of origin.

"If you recognise the name and know the origin of the name that you find, then you click the Contribute button," says Nafees Khan, project manager. "You can then register or log in on the site and give details of what you know about the spelling of the name and where it originated." Scholars then will review the contributor's information, looking for consensus among respondents.

"Since May 2011 we have been able to identify the modern ethno-linguistic associations of nearly 25,000 names in the database," says Eltis. "With help from the African public, we expect that we will be able to establish the origins of those of African descent in the Americas with an unprecedented degree of clarity and precision."

Share the News

Get Daily Newsletter

comments powered by Disqus


Africa should accelerate IPv6 migration now to avoid a scramble later

The Internet community across Africa needs to prepare for the inevitable day when AFRINIC, the Regional Internet Registry (RIR), will run out of IPv4 addresses to allocate to its members, says SEACOM.  Read More

Smile launches first VoLTE service in East Africa

Smile Telecom Holdings has launched the first voice over LTE (VoLTE) service in East Africa offering high-definition voice and video calling services. Read More

Seagate Storage Cloud to launch in South Africa

Seagate Technology, the California-based global leader in data storage solutions, is to formally launch a long-term, unlimited capacity cloud-based data storage service in South Africa early next year. Read More

Hellofood celebrates 3rd Anniversary in Kenya

Hellofood, Kenya’s leading online food portal that allows users to order for food online from a listing of over 270 restaurants selling on its online marketplace, is celebrating its 3rd anniversary.   Read More

eCommerce in Africa urged to take advantage of mobile

The Executive Chairman of Alltel has urged operators of eCommerce in Ghana and Africa as a whole to take advantage of the current trend for Africans to trade online via their mobile handsets.  Read More

Sao Tomé & Principe to Cape Town segment of ACE cable launched

Orange, together with the other members of the ACE consortium, has announced the start of the next phase of the ACE submarine cable system to expand broadband connectivity and digital services in Africa.  Read More

Free Basics by Facebook expands internet access to millions of people in Africa

Facebook’s Free Basics Platform is now live, making more than 60 new services are available across the 29 countries where Free Basic services are available, including 14 in Africa. Read More

Alcatel-Lucent, Burkina Faso to apply cloud networking for digital public services

Alcatel-Lucent is to provide the government of Burkina Faso with cloud networking technology that will enable it to develop new digital public services, such as e-government, e-learning and e-health.  Read More

Jumia braces for mega ‘black Friday’

Kenyan e-tailer Jumia is expecting record traffic next week, when it stages its second ‘black Friday’ sale.  Read More

Afriwave CEO assures Ghana MPs of ICH readiness

The CEO of Afriwave, Philip Sowah, has told Ghana’s parliamentary select committee in charge of communications that the phase one of the National Interconnect Clearinghouse (ICH) is fully set and ready to start work in Accra.  Read More


Sage ERP AfricaSAP AfricaSage Pastel AccountingTrust PayVMWareSamsung ElectronicsMitsumi DistributionPhoenix DistributionMTN BusinessSchneider ElectricMultichoiceMicrosoft 4AfrikaNetworks Unlimited


eCommerce in Africa urged to take advantage of mobile eCommerce in Africa urged to take advantage of mobile

The Executive Chairman of Alltel has urged operators of eCommerce in Ghana and Africa as a whole to take advantage of the current trend for Africans to trade online via their mobile handsets. 


Nigeria needs $25b investment in broadband, says WoodNigeria needs $25b investment in broadband, says Wood

Telecoms executive Adrian Wood speaks to Kokumo Goodie about investment potential in Nigeria.