Some topics are, by their very nature, more difficult to teach about. The Jewish Holocaust. Early Native Americans and their interaction with Europeans. Divisive issues such as elections and policy rulings.

And the Middle Passage and Trans-Atlantic slavery.

The topic itself can be painful and emotional but another concern for history teachers has been the lack of perspective and information available. Part of that problem has been solved.voyages

Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database launched yesterday and it is, simply put, an amazing resource. The site allows millions of Americans to trace their African ancestors in much the same the European-Americans have been doing for years. Voyages documents the slave trade from Africa to the New World that took place between the 1500s and the 1800s and includes searchable data on almost 35,000 trips and the names of nearly 70,000 of those on board.

The site, which includes information on almost 95% of all slave voyages leaving England and 2/3 of all slave voyages from 1514-1866, has been decades in the making. Researchers from Europe and the United States, specifically Emory University and Havard University, have compiled data from previous work and newly uncovered information.voyages-2

Once on the site, you can access data on specific trips and specific people. students can view images, read essays, analyze maps and download entire chunks of data. You and your kids can manipulate the data to create charts, maps, timelines and graphs specific to your needs. Especially chilling, for example, is a chart kids can create depicting the numbers of those that embarked in Africa on slave voyages and those that disembarked in New World ports.

Also useful for teachers, the site makes available a nice list of lesson plans and web sites which will continue to grow over time.

A truly phenomenal resource and one much needed to help fill in gaps in our current understanding of both US and World history.