Visualizing 315 Years of the Atlantic Slave Trade

315 years. Millions of lives. 20,528 voyages in this infographic,
documented from the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.

The infographic above was designed by Slate magazine’s Andrew Kahn, to visualize the appalling scale of the trans-Atlantic slave trade “across time, as well as the flow of transport and eventual destinations. The dots—which represent individual slave ships—also correspond to the size of each voyage. The larger the dot, the more enslaved people on board. And if you pause the map and click on a dot, you’ll learn about the ship’s flag—was it British? Portuguese? French?—its origin point, its destination, and its history in the slave trade.”

This infographic is part of “The History of American Slavery,” a Slate Academy, authored by JAMELLE BOUIE and REBECCA ONION with special appearances by HENRY LOUIS GATES JR., where you can learn about America’s defining institution, as told through the lives of nine enslaved people.

The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database documents nearly “36,000 slaving voyages that forcibly embarked over 10 million Africans for transport to the Americas between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries. The actual number is estimated to have been as high as 12.5 million. The database and the separate estimates interface offer researchers, students and the general public a chance to rediscover the reality of one of the largest forced movements of peoples in world history.”

There are three principle resources for African-American genealogy research at the website:

The remarkable website is maintained through a partnership of the following institutions and funding agencies:

National Endowment for the Humanities
Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University (USA)
Emory University
Libraries (USA)

The University of Hull (UK)
Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Victoria University of  Wellington (New Zealand)

Visualizing 315 Years of the Atlantic Slave Trade is essential reading for all of us.