DH Project: The forced migration of enslaved people in the United States 1810 – 1860

Screenshot of the site


The goal of this project is to illustrate the changes in the forced migration of enslaved people through domestic slave trade routes over time. The site does a great job at providing short descriptions under each decade explaining why there were changes to the population of enslaved people. For example, there is a huge drop in slave immigration in almost all regions, but particularly Alabama from 1830 to 1840 because “the intensity of slave trading slowed amid the lengthy economic depression that followed the Panic of 1837, when the speculative bubble in cotton burst.” In addition, the site provides narratives of various enslaved people from different regions who share their unique stories and inform us about the sufferings they had to go through.  Moreover, the project is in conversation with history and statistics academic fields because it uses mathematical models to estimate the number of forced migration over time in different regions of the country.

Black Box

  • Breaks down the black box of your digital project by identifying its
    • Sources (assets): population of enslaved people, narratives, and immigration data
    • Processes (services): organization, statistically process, digitized, and data visualization
    • Presentation (display): map, graph, and timeline


  • Identifies a new question you have that arose from breaking the project down
    • Why does Virginia have the highest out-migration number compared to other states?


  • Who made the website? What are their relationships to the project/institution?
    • This map is authored by the staff of the Digital Scholarship Lab: Robert K. Nelson, Edward L. Ayers, Justin Madron, and Nathaniel Ayers. Scott Nesbit contributed substantially to the preliminary drafts.
  • What kinds of data are being used? Is the data available for broader use? Would you want it to be?
    • The data is mostly population of enslaved people in different regions of the country along with some narratives. The data is available in form of a map and graph and I think it would be great if it’s accessible for broader use because it would help to inform people about the history of enslaved people who suffered a lot during their lifetime.


This is a screenshot of the site that illustrates the map on the left side and the graphs on the right side.

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