Historical slavery header

Historical slavery

The Wilberforce Institute’s strength lies in our ability to analyse historical slavery as a lens to study contemporary exploitation.

The Wilberforce Institute has a well-established reputation for producing ground-breaking research into historical slavery.

Our work on slave voyages, led by Professor David Richardson, has transformed at all levels the evidential base for studying the transatlantic slave trade, providing researchers with reliable estimates of those carried from Africa to the Americas, as well as their origins and destinations.

His Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade (2010) has been described as ‘one of the greatest historical achievements of our time’.

The Institute has also produced prizewinning research on historical anti-slavery and has contributed to European projects that seek to integrate slavery and abolition into the history of Europe and its former colonies.

The launch of a multi-source online database of 35,000 transatlantic slave voyages (www.slavevoyages.org) was the culmination of a collaborative international project led by the Wilberforce institute.

The database became the basis of several publications including an Atlas of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Harvard Professor and Macarthur Fellow, Henry Louis Gates, has described the Atlas as ‘the Rosetta Stone of slave historiography’.