Locate Trans-Atlantic Mortality

Figure 1: Dutch Slave Voyages 1751-1795

This map depicts a selection of Dutch slave voyages that occurred between 1751 and 1795. Depicted here by each green dot are 5,724 days’ worth of latitude and longitude positioning from fifteen ships. The red dots mark the locations where at least one enslaved person’s death was recorded. The latitude, longitude, and daily dates are all drawn from the CLIWOC database and the records of the deaths are taken from various ship logs and captain’s journals. As the location and density of the red dots indicate, death was an omnipresent feature of the entire Middle Passage, and of the trans-Atlantic Triangle Trade more broadly.

Figure 2: Death Averages of Dutch Voyages

Using the same selection of fifteen ships and their voyages between 1751 and 1795, this image depicts the average number of enslaved persons’ deaths in each 150km2 grid. It is important to note that this is not the average per ship but the average number of deaths for each point where the logbooks recorded at least one death (the red dots from the first image). The height of the bar corresponds to the average, with the highest bar representing an average of four deaths and the color of the bar corresponding to the number of recorded latitude/longitude coordinates in that area (with darker indicating more plotted positions). This map generally affirms the hypothesis put forward by scholars studying the Middle Passage that there is a high correlation between the length of the voyage (in terms of days, not necessarily distance) and the mortality rate (See Eltis 1984). Evidence for this is found in the cluster of bars averaging two to four deaths per point located just off the coast of Suriname. The collection of bars just off the so-called “Gold Coast” of Africa also affirms findings of high mortality rates at the beginning of Middle Passage voyages (See Cohn and Jensen 1982). For a more detailed look at the nature and causes of the mortality of enslaved Africans, visit the “Mortality Pattern Analysis” section of this website.