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Not all Africans captured and bound for slavery in the Americas actually were delivered into the harsh life of plantation work. More than 80,000 Africans were rescued from slavery in the early 1800s when the British Navy diverted their ships to foreign ports. Now G. Ugo Nwokeji, an assistant professor of history at the University of Connecticut, and his British colleague, David Eltis, are developing a database of the names of these rescued slaves. The information, collected from the British Public Record Office, should lead to new discoveries in African-American genealogy and the slave trade. (Update: You can see data on captured ships on the Web site Voyages: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.)
“It's an unusual document in that slaves are recorded by their African names,” Nwokeji says. “There is nothing like that in the history of the slave trade.”