Michigan State University Uses Mellon Foundation Grant To Build Massive Slave Trade Database

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Michigan State University UsesMellon Foundation Grant To Build Massive Slave Trade Database

Michigan State University, supported by nearly $1.5 million from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will create a unique online data hub that will change the way scholars and the public understand African slavery.

By linking data collections from multiple universities, the website will allow people to search millions of pieces of slave data to identify enslaved individuals and their descendants from a central source. Users can also run analyses of enslaved populations and create maps, charts and graphics.

The project, called 'Enslaved: The People of the Historic Slave Trade,' is funded by a $1.47 million grant from the Mellon Foundation.

''Enslaved' brings new digital tools and analytical approaches to the study of African slavery and the Atlantic slave trade,' said project co-investigator Walter Hawthorne, professor and chair of MSU's Department of History. 'By linking data compiled by some of the world's foremost historians, it will allow scholars and the public to learn about individuals' lives and to draw new, broad conclusions about processes that had an indelible impact on the world.'

Dean Rehberger, director of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at MSU, will lead the project along with Hawthorne and Ethan Watrall, associate director of Matrix and assistant professor of anthropology.

This project, which will take 18 months, is the first phase of a multi-phase plan. In phase one, MSU and partners will develop a proof-of-concept to show data can be linked across eight well-established online databases, including the collection at MSU's Matrix...

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