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Michigan State University Receives $1.5 Million Grant To Build Revolutionary Slave Trade Database

Michigan State

Michigan State University has received a hefty $1.47 million Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant that will be used to create an online database that connects databases from other American and international universities. 

“Enslaved: The People of the Historic Slave Trade” features the work from other major universities including Emory University, Vanderbilt University, Harvard University, York University, University College, London, University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Maryland.

As part of the first phase of the multistage plan, it will take 18 months to get the database up and running and connected to the eight other databases. 

“’Enslaved’ brings new digital tools and analytical approaches to the study of African slavery and the Atlantic slave trade,” said project co-investigator Walter Hawthorne, professor and chair of MSU’s Department of History. “By linking data compiled by some of the world’s foremost historians, it will allow scholars and the public to learn about individuals’ lives and to draw new, broad conclusions about processes that had an indelible impact on the world.”

When completed, the website will allow people to search millions of available data on the slave trade and slavery in general. Users can also identify enslaved individuals and their descendants from a central source. Not only can the data be used for research purposes, it can be used to create maps, charts and graphics.

“We and our partners value the support of the Mellon Foundation,”  Director of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at MSU Dean Rehberger said. “In bringing together data from a number of highly successful projects, we have the opportunity from many small threads of data to weave together lives of enslaved individuals once thought lost to history.”

The stories of millions of individuals stolen from West Africa and forced to labor in the new world will never be forgotten. This project ensures that. 

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Phyllis Coley
Phyllis D. Coley is CEO/Publisher of Spectacular Magazine and Host of Spectacular Magazine Radio Show. With a B.A. in English from NCCU, the Durham native began her professional career as Promotions/Marketing Director for New York City’s WKTU-FM. While at the radio station, Coley discovered the rap group Kid ‘n Play and managed them for five years, guiding their music and movie careers to success. Moving back to Durham, Coley produced a nationally syndicated television show, The Electric Factory, while working as News Director for FOXY 107/104. In April 2002, recognizing a void in highlighting the achievements of African Americans, she started her own business publishing ACE Magazine. Coley launched Spectacular Magazine in November 2004. Recognizing the lack of pertinent and truthful information, Coley began Spectacular Magazine Radio Show in March 2009. Coley is the organizer of Durham's Annual MLK/Black History Month Parade and the Annual North Carolina Juneteenth Celebration. She currently serves on Central Children’s Home Board of Directors, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Advisors, as Immediate Past Secretary of the Durham Rotary Club Board of Directors and is one of the founding members of the Triangle United Way’s African American Leadership Initiative.

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