New Website Attempts to Uncover Origins of Enslaved Africans

April 28, 2011  |  

By B. Hutson

Though little is known about the ancestry of Africans who were victims of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, a new website launched by Emory University is attempting to change that.

The new website, known as The African-Origins, was created to increase the probability of tracing the origins of millions of other Africans that were forcibly transported to the Americas. Visitors of the website can search an online database of Africans liberated from slaving vessels. Details such as gender, age, African port of departure and an African name can be entered to assist in one’s research.

For the website to fulfill its purpose, scholars associated with the African Origins project are asking for the public’s assistance. Since names used within African languages and social groups have remained fairly consistent over the last two centuries, the thousands of names listed in the database serve as clues to the linguistic and ethnic origins of the Africans who were on board the slaving vessels. Scholars need assistance in identifying the modern counterpart of those African names, as well as the languages and ethnicities with which they are likely associated.

Visitors to the site will eventually be able to search for Africans by linguistic group and view maps of the historical locations of people pulled into the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

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