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MSU will use $1.47 million grant to build slave trade database

Michigan State University sign
Michigan State University

Michigan State University wants people to have a more comprehensive understanding on the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

It will use nearly $1.5 million to build a database designed to give details about the lives of enslaved people.

MSU will use $1.47 million from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to put together an online database that will combine data MSU already has with information from other databases regarding the slave trade.

Dean Rehberger, a history professor at MSU, says the database will include biographies, charts and other documents from several countries.

“What's wonderful here is that you get a sense of often the very complex lives that enslaved people would live,” Rehberger said.

Rehberger says the website will be primarily for scholars, but will also be open to the public.

Walter Hawthorne, another history professor at MSU who is involved in the project, says this database will help school teach a more comprehensive view of slavery.

“So anyone in the K-12 school system who's interested in studying slavery and the Atlantic slave trade will be able to use this for classroom purposes,” Hawthorne said.

Hawthorne says it will be another year and a half or so before the database is up and running.

For information regarding the slave trade from MSU, you can visit SlaveBiographies.org and Enslaved.org.

Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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