January 9, 2018

MSU receives $1.5M Mellon Foundation grant to build extensive database on the historic slave trade

Tags: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, History

Matrix is excited to announce Enslaved: The People of the Historic Slave Trade, a project supported by a $1.47 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project will create an online data hub that will bring together many datasets of African slavery and the Atlantic slave trade.

Previously, projects archiving the history of enslaved peoples were separated, and finding information about individuals across the different datasets was an arduous or sometimes impossible task. In response to this, the Enslaved project will make many datasets searchable from a single website, and will allow users to find all data related to a particular individual across many projects. This will present unprecedented opportunities for accessing, searching, and visualizing information about enslaved persons and their stories. Scholars will be able to provide new insights on the historical slave trade based on more information than ever before, and descent communities and the interested public will be able to engage with the lived experiences of enslaved persons through the records of their lives.

The project will take 18 months, and 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 a collection at MSU’s Matrix.

Dean Rehberger, director of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at MSU, will lead the project along with Walter Hawthorne, professor and chair of MSU’s Department of History, and Ethan Watrall, associate director of Matrix and assistant professor of Anthropology. For more information and updates, follow the Enslaved project at: www.enslaved.org