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Slave Wrecks Project

The Slave Wrecks Project (SWP) is a long-term collaboration between six core partners, including the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). The project is designed to combine research, training and education to build new scholarship and knowledge about the study of the global slave trade, particularly through the lens of slave shipwrecks. Core partners for SWP include the George Washington University, Iziko Museums of South Africa, the South African Heritage Resource Agency, the U.S. National Park Service, Diving With a Purpose and the African Center for Heritage Activities.

Underwater archaeology researchers on the site of the São José slave ship wreck near the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Photo courtesy Iziko Museums.

SWP catalyzes a new field of research—maritime archaeology—in the scholarship of slavery and the slave trade, while generating an innovative model through which museums can relate research to exhibits and public education, as well as meaningfully engage with the diverse communities of local, national and international stakeholders. The project establishes a new model for international collaboration among museums and research institutions, and it links research to professional training, institutional capacity building, heritage protection and fields of heritage tourism.

Slave Wrecks Project Website

Fact Sheet on Slave Wrecks Project (PDF)

Fact sheet on São José Slave Ship and Site (PDF)