Having students internalize historical events is a task I try to achieve in my high school Geography and World History classrooms almost every lesson. This is a difficult mission, but it does not prevent me from asking myself, “How can I make this topic personal for students?”
This is the same question I pondered when developing lessons about the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Yes, students arrive to me with prior knowledge about the subject, but their familiarity with the topic is only surface-deep. I have learned that investigating history from the bottom-up has made my students more attuned into the field of history.
Therefore, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database has made the grassroots of this theme come alive in my classroom. The immense about of information compiled in this database is astounding and truly makes my students appreciate the subject. There are maps that illustrate where the 12.5 million slaves were embarked and disembarked, but what catches my students’ interest the most is the “African Names Database”, which houses 91,491 names of Africans who were enslaved. Not only are their names provided, but also their age, height, sex, name of the ship they were transported on, and where they were embarked/disembarked.
By clicking on the “Voyage ID” for each African listed, you can even see more information about the ship, such as its tonnage and the name of the captain! This is a treasure-trove of information that makes the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade relevant to students.
The site even offers lesson-plans for teachers, who may want to know how to incorporate this information into the classroom effectively. The slave-trade may have ended over a century ago, but this database helps students realize the significance of this event.