marie se hique

a watercolor by an unknown artist shows the slave ship la marie-sé hique in a harbor in haiti in 1773.(p o: images via

historians are digging deeper into the narrative of north american slavery, exploring the stories not only of those who were born into slavery, but also of those who were kidnapped in the middle of their lives and sold into bondage across the sea.

researchers at the shadd biog hies project at toronto’s york university are collecting accounts — some found wholesale, some pieced together from historical records — that will go into a database to be available free to the public in 2018.

usa today

don't tell me to 'get over' race: stephen henderson

since the project began in 2011, historians have collected hundred of detailed accounts that bring to mind 12 years a slave, the 1853 autobiog hy by solomon northup, a free-born black man from new york who was kidnapped in washington, d.c., in 1841 and sold into slavery on a louisiana plantation.

these biog hies, however, are of people from africa, the caribbean and south america who were brought to north america from the late 18th century through the 19th century via the trans-atlantic slave trade.

“almost all the people that experienced the middle p age were born free,” says project director and york professor paul lovejoy, using the term for the trade route that carried slaves to america. “it’s a different thing than being born into slavery. ... virtually all the slave ships from africa have been documented — 3,500 boats, where they e from and where they were going. we have much more material than people might realize.”

terry alford’s prince among slaves tells the story

terry alford’s prince among slaves tells the story of a muslim prince, abd al rahman ibrahima, captured by slavers and taken to america.

 (p o: ay/search.html)

lovejoy and university of es historian sean kelley started working on the project in 2013 to prove that this history is recoverable and still relevant.

the global project includes graduate students and a core of eight historians from the usa, canada, brazil, and britain. it aims to tell the stories of enslaved individuals with reliable historical data, including fugitive slave advertisements, missionary statements, liberated african documents and third-person accounts.

“many of them are very brief and written from the third person; so the historians have to handle this very carefully,” kelley says. “the thing about the testimonies is, it’s one of those things when you start looking for something, you find it everywhere.”

historians also use parliamentary sources, naval records, travel records, newspaper archives and british records to construct the biog hies.

“all of this is to get past thinking about the trans-atlantic slaves as an anonymous m ,” kelley says.

the acronym shadd stands for studies in the history of the african diaspora – documents, a name chosen in honor of mary ann shadd cary (1823-93), a canadian abolitionist and editor of the provincial freeman. the first black female newspaper editor in north america, she documented the underground railroad and resistance to slavery.

brazilian ship 1824.jpg

a diagram of a slave ship from an 1831 publication shows the inhumane conditions below decks.

 (p o: image via, compiled by jerome handler and michael tuite, sponsored by the virginia foundation for the humanities)

in addition to reclaiming the identities of those stolen into slavery, lovejoy and kelley hope to correct misinformation that has become mainstream.

“the africans were the largest forced migration in world history,” kelley says. “in fact, americans are accustomed to thinking about europeans founding america, but from the time of columbus to 1830, most old world settlers e from africa.”

another area of misinformation, the historians say, centers on the presence of muslims in the usa. far from being newcomers, lovejoy and kelley say, muslims were present almost from the beginning of european colonization.

“there is a very long history of islamic people in the unites states,” kelley says, noting that almost as many africans as puritans arrived in the 16th and 17th centuries, and that 10% of those brought by the trans-atlantic slave trade were muslim.

“it goes back to understanding our history, including north america and canada. you can’t understand the histories of the americas without coming to grips with this slavery,” lovejoy says. “we can do more because we know so much about africa. we know a lot.”

13 connectlinkedinemailmore

read or share this story: http://u .ly/2jt6vnd