Enslaved.org: Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade

The Hutchins Center is proud to partner with Enslaved.org, an innovative Digital Humanities partnership, funded by the Mellon Foundation and led by Matrix: Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences at Michigan State University.  

Link to Enslaved.org

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As of 2021, we have built a robust, open-source architecture to discover and explore nearly a half million people records and 5 million data points about enslaved people in the Transatlantic Slave Trade. From archival fragments and spreadsheet entries, we see the lives of the enslaved in richer detail. 

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The platform contains information on hundreds of thousands of individuals involved in the historical slave trade — including enslaved people, slave owners, and slave traders. For most of these individuals, we can offer little more than fragmentary evidence, however, for some individuals, we can tell a more complex story. Hundreds of these stories can be found in the three biographical dictionaries produced by the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research at Harvard University and published in print and online by Oxford University Press.  https://oxfordaasc.com/

African American National Biography (2008; 2013)
Editors in Chief: Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham

Dictionary of African Biography (2011)
Editors in Chief: Emmanuel K. Akyeampong and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.

Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography (2016)
Editors in Chief: Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Franklin W. Knight

Adapted versions of 80 of these individual biographies are now available at https://enslaved.org/stories, along with timelines, a bibliography, and links to other resources, including the full, original biographies. They tell a variety of stories from across Africa and the Americas, of enslaved people fighting for their freedom, of the shifting boundaries between enslavement and liberation, and of the dynamics of slave trading, raiding, and life. Through these biographies, we can better understand the complexities of people’s lives and the role of slavery and freedom in shaping them.

Data Article

Read the data article on "Enslaved People in the African American National Biography," in the Journal of Slavery and Data Preservation, Enslaved.org's peer reviewed scholarly digital publication: https://doi.org/10.12921/tw8h-c447


Download the database from the Harvard Dataverse: 


Suggest & Apply

  • Suggest New Datasets to be added to Enslaved.org
  • Apply to write a biography for Enslaved.org/Stories and the Oxford University Press African American Studies Center