My thesis project centered upon studying Baltimore’s role in the domestic slave trade. Working from the extensive data compiled by the local historian Ralph Clayton, I designed a prototype for an app that serves as an educational tool, historic tour and memorial to the slave trade in Baltimore.
A map of Baltimore from 1851, slave pens are marked in red and wharves in blue.
Working from Clayton’s research I was able identify thenumber of slaves that had been sold at each location. Using economic research calculating the average price of slaves throughout the 1800s, I determined the approximate monetary value of those sales and the translation into today dollars.
Slave traders openly advertised in Baltimore newspapers and I included several of these in the exhibition.
Searching through ship manifests, Clayton gathered the names of over 12,000 slaves who were sold through Baltimore. The details included their ages, the name of the ship that carried them South, the date it set sail and the wharf it departed from.
Using this information, I designed small memorial name cards to be given out at the exhibition. 200 people were chosen and each card held the information for a different individual.
This app functions on several levels. It provides historic context, explaining the larger social and economic forces that made Baltimore an epicenter of the slave trade in the 1800s.
It serves as a historic tour that enables the user to easily find and go to locations involved in the slave trade. It organizes the massive amounts of data associated with each site and makes it clear and easily assessable to the user.
And finally, the app serves as a memorial to the tens of thousands of people consumed by the slave trade, bringing actual names to abstract numbers.