Under the leadership of David Eltis, and including Herbert Klein, Stephen Behrendt, David Richardson, Manolo Florentino, Paul Lachance, and many other scholars, the records of over 35,000 voyages have been assembled into a user friendly, open source, on-line database, The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database (www.slavevoyages.org). The database, which is hosted at Emory University, builds on the pioneering work of Philip D. Curtin (The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Census, Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969). Subsequent demographic analysis of the forced migration of African peoples under slavery resulted in a more elaborate database, viz., David Eltis, David Richardson, Stephen Behrendt, and Herbert S. Klein, The Atlantic Slave Trade: A Database on CD-ROM (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999). The current version greatly expands the database as a result of extensive collaboration among scholars whose research has been incorporated to generate the on-line database. The great debt that scholars owe to the editors and compilers of this database is enormous. Their work has challenged scholars to reconsider the impact of the slave trade on the Atlantic world.
In May 2010, the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples, York University, provided a forum for discussion of the relevance of the database in understanding African economic history. The workshop specifically challenged some of the achievements of this monumental collaboration and offered new insights into how the impact of slavery on Africa can be assessed. It should be noted that there is no standardized way to refer to the on-line database. In the essays that follow, the database is sometimes referred to under the names of the principal compilers, David Eltis, David Richardson, Stephen Behrendt and Manolo Florentino; sometimes simply as Slave Voyages Database or the Voyages database, and sometimes among specialists as the Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, and to distinguish the on-line version from 1999 CD-ROM publication, [End Page 1] as TSTD2. The Web site is not entirely clear on this matter, although generally Web sites are not cited with their author(s).
In addition to the support of the Harriet Tubman Institute, the Workshop was funded by the Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada through its Major Collaborative Research Initiatives Programme. [End Page 2]
Paul E. Lovejoy is Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of History, York University, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He holds the Canada Research Chair in African Diaspora History and is Director of the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples. He has published 28 books, including Transformations in Slavery: A History of Slavery in Africa (3rd ed., 2011). He is past member of the International Scientific Committee of the UNESCO “Slave Route” Project, Secteur du Culture, and has served as Associate Vice-President (Research) at York University from 1986 to 1990 and as a member of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada from 1990 to 1997, and Vice President in 1996 to 1997. He received a Killam Senior Research Fellowship from the Canada Council in 1994 to 1997 and was Visiting Professor at El Colegio de Mexico in 1999. In 2007, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Stirling, and in 2011 he received the Life Time Achievement Award from the Canadian Association of African Studies and the Teaching Award of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, York University.