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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Returning to 'Voyages'

So I saw a piece on CNN.com yesterday co-written by David Eltis, Robert W. Woodruff Professor of History. Eltis is one of the world's foremost experts on the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the column explored in fascinating fashion new revelations about the slave trade.

For me, the story was compelling for several reasons. First, I was a history minor in college, so it's always nice to feed that part of my brain. It's also nice whenever an Emory faculty member is featured on a website as well-traveled as CNN. It makes us all look good. Finally, the EAA was fortunate to partner with Eltis previously, and the result was one of our most successful programs of the 2009-10 academic year.

Back in November 2009, the EAA presented Eltis' compelling work in Washington, DC at a event that included President Jim Wagner, Georgia Rep. John Lewis, and featured guided electronic tours of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database, the remarkable culmination of Eltis' decades of slave trade research.

The image above reproduces one of several large panels that ringed the Caucus Room of the Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill, our event venue. The panels detailed historical images, graphs, tables, essays and maps, illustrating the variety of information and historical insight found in the database, as well as the historical sources used to develop it.

I've staffed a lot of events with the EAA, but Voyages, as it was called (a reference to the database), was something special. There was an excitement in the room that seemed to bounce off the walls. Maybe it was the interactivity of 250 guests surfing through the database on computers scattered throughout. Maybe it was the presence of a sitting member of Congress (and a civil rights icon). I'm not sure, but at the time I remember hoping we could bottle the enthusiasm and open it up again somewhere else.

Looks like we'll get the chance.

We were so pleased with the program and the turnout, the EAA is planning to feature Eltis and Voyages once again. This time in Atlanta in February. We'll have more information about that really soon.

On a related note, the EAA is also co-sponsoring a four-day symposium, Slavery and the University: Histories and Legacies, February 3-6, at the Emory Conference Center Hotel and Oxford College. You can register here.

-- Eric Rangus, director of communications, EAA

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