Slave Wrecks Project

Related Expertise: Power to Convene
Date Initiated: 2008

The Slave Wrecks Project, a partnership between the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, Iziko Museums of South Africa, the U.S. National Park Service, the South African Heritage Resource Agency, Diving With a Purpose, and the African Center for Heritage Activities, seeks to bring greater awareness to the study of sunken slave ships and build capacity for research and education in the field of maritime archaeology.

In 2015, the project confirmed the identity of a sunken slave ship—the first ever to be documented—that had been transporting enslaved Africans when it foundered. The discovery and documentation of the São José resulted from close cooperation between numerous local, national and international stakeholders. The project research not only raises the profile of the history and cultural impacts of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, but also establishes a new model of international collaboration among museums, research institutions, and the communities they represent. 


Learn more about this Project

Out of Bondage, Research on Slave Wrecks Build New Ties of Promise