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June 12, 2021

Access to Nearly 1 Million Slave Trade Records

Staff with Michigan State University’s Matrix: Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences are taking on the seemingly impossible goal of illuminating the lives of the millions of Africans, and their descendants, sold into bondage across four continents as part of the slave trade. 

Founded by a $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, this project is being carried out primarily by investigators with Michigan State University and the University of Maryland, in partnership with other prominent collaborating organizations. 

An estimated 388,000 enslaved persons arrived in North America, and by 1860 nearly 4 million lived in bondage in the United States.  The project has launched a FREE public website where you can search people, events and places across 857,398 records (constantly expanding) from the slave trade.

Any member of the public can utilize the site “Peoples of the Historic Slave Trade,” available at I will be visiting the site to look for Jonathan Butler, my husband's 4th great-grandfather, a free man of colour from Pennsylvania. This is a wonderful resource for genealogists and historians alike.

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