Data Critiques

Data Critique (Aragona)

The data gathered from Transatlantic Slave ships has a wide variety of applications for a multitude of research. Scholars on Slavery, Trade, Naval movements and the Colonial period will find information detailed a separated into the following categories, Voyage ID (numbered 1-900237), name of ship’s captain, year undertaken, place of origin, destination, fate (whether that be as detailed as records of sales or as simple as disembarked.) The spreadsheet goes on to detail the end result of the journey, generally stating slaves delivered to or for original owner. From this data we can study the specifics of journeys undertaken and trace the origins of the enslaved population in certain locations. Port Documents from a multitude of nations, in a multitude of languages including English, French, Spanish, and Dutch were used to compiled the data which ranges in date from 1514 all the way through 1866. The types of records used to compile this information would have been used in a similar manner to modern cargo ship manifests, as a way to track “property” and capital. The apparent limitations in the data, likely originating from the various data sources at different ports, are demonstrated in the lack of full details beyond end results and numbers. While the presentation of data in cold numbers can be eye opening, this particular data set does very little for the ”human” side of history. We aren’t given information regarding families, or any information portraying the victims of the slave trade as anything besides numbers. Manifests like this would have been an excellent way for the ancestors of slaves to trace routes both beyond just the African continent and to separated family members had record keepers viewed them as humans and not objects. However the data kept is informative for what is present, even though what isn’t present tells an even darker story about the horrors of slavery.

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