by Trevor Williams | April 27, 2011
A team of scholars at Emory University has launched a website that uses names and linguistic analysis to uncover the likely origins of Africans sold into the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
More than 9,000 names are already in the database at the African-Origins website, but the work is just beginning. Researchers are asking those who know African languages and naming practices to provide cultural insight into the names already collected, according to a news release.
Pairing modern name variations with their older counterparts can be particularly helpful. The modern speaker's language becomes a clue that could link the 19th-century name with a certain African region.
"The website provides a rare glimpse of the identifies of Africans aboard 19-century slaving vessels, and through this information, the possibility of tracing the origins of millions of other Africans forcibly transported to the Americas," said David Eltis, a chaired history professor at Emory who is leading the project.
To help, visit www.african-origins.org.