Background

     In this situation I expected every hour to share the fate of my companions, some of whom were almost daily brought upon deck at the point of death, which I began to hope would soon put an end to my miseries. Often did I think many of the inhabitants of the deep much more happy than myself; I envied them the freedom they enjoyed, and as often wished I could change my condition for theirs.                                                     — Olaudah Equiano, 1789

Portrait of Olaudah Equiano [online image], retrived July 31 from http://www.brycchancarey.com/equiano/portrait.htm

These words were written by Olaudah Equiano, a young African captured and sold into slavery, about his voyage to North America in the 18th century.  From the end of the 16th century to the middle of the 19th century approximately 12.5 million Africans, just like young Equiano,  were enslaved and forced onto voyages across the Atlantic Ocean, with 10.7 million reaching the Americas and being sold into slavery. This deadly route from Africa to the Americas is called the Middle Passage.

 The Middle Passage has been a critical piece of the history of slavery. Traditionally, people learn about the pain and bloodiness experienced by the enslaved Africans along the Middle Passage through imagination in literature, as demonstrated by poet Derek Walcott. However, past researchers, such as David Eltis, have also collected the rich historical data about the Middle Passage and organized them into databases, such as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Voyage Database, from which we can discover many new stories about the Middle Passage.

Eltis, D. (2010). Overview of the slave trade out of Africa, 1500-1900 [Online Image]. Retrieved June 1, 2019 from https://www.slavevoyages.org/voyage/maps

The aim of this project is to obtain a greater understanding of the fate of the almost two million captives who died before the tens of thousands of slave voyages in the Middle Passage reached their destination through data analysis, such as mapping, path prediction, and pattern interpretation.  In this way, we hope to remember the pain and persecution experienced by the victims of one of the gravest tragedies in human history.