Research Tools: “Who Were America’s Enslaved? A New Database Humanizes the Names Behind the Numbers”
Enslaved: Peoples of the Historic Slave Trade, a newly launched digital database featuring 613,458 entries (and counting), seeks to streamline the research process by placing dozens of complex datasets in conservation with each other. If, for instance, a user searches for a woman whose transport to the Americas is documented in one database but whose later life is recorded in another, the portal can connect these details and synthesize them.
“We have these data sets, which have a lot of specific information taken in a particular way, [in] fragments,” says Daryle Williams, a historian at the University of Maryland and one of the project’s principal investigators. “… [If] you put enough fragments together and you put them together by name, by place, by chronology, you begin to have pieces of lives, which were lived in a whole way, even with the violence and the disruptions and the distortions of enslavement itself. We [can] begin then to construct or at least understand a narrative life.”
Funded through a $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Enslaved.org—described by its creators as a “linked open data platform” featuring information on people, events and places involved in the transatlantic slave trade—marks the culmination of almost ten years of work by Williams and fellow principal investigators Walter Hawthorne, a historian at Michigan State University, and Dean Rehberger, director of Michigan State’s Matrix Center for Digital Humanities & Social Sciences.
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com. Gary is also the co-founder of infoDJ an innovation research consultancy supporting corporate product and business model teams with just-in-time fact and insight finding.