Sample Assignment: Tracking a Slave Ship with Voyages

This assignment asks students to investigate a specific slave vessel and contextualize its journeys within their broader knowledge of the trade and concurrent historical events/processes that might have affected it. After using the database to choose a vessel and analyze its voyages, students complete a worksheet that asks them to look at the vessel in its historical context. After completing the worksheet, students participate in a class discussion where they compare the experiences of various vessels, the ways that historical context shaped the transatlantic slave trade, and continuities and changes in the trade over time. Ideally the discussion will provide openings for discussions on the complex historical thinking skills of periodization and causation. In an undergraduate classroom this assignment could involve a research essay on the chosen ship rather than a worksheet.

By John Rosinbum

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For more about using Voyages as an easy entry into digital history projects for students, see John Rosinbum's blog post on AHA Today: "Teaching the Slave Trade with Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database."