William & Mary

Out of the Archive, Into an Online Database

  • From the archive:
    From the archive:  Certificate of testimony, the opening page of a deposition given by Col. David Everette, captain of the U.S. Navy ship "Heroina" in Port Soledad, Falkland Islands. 1821, Archivo General de la Nación, Argentina  
  • From the archive:
    From the archive:  Document giving William Rusk, of Baltimore, Maryland, power of attorney to act on behalf of Daniel James, of Baltimore, in Rio de la Plata. 1820, Archivo General de la Nación, Argentina  
  • From the archive:
    From the archive:  Port of Montevideo inspection certificate for the American slaving ship "General of Selen." 1805, Archivo General de la Nación, Argentina  
  • From the archive:
    From the archive:  List of cargo carried by American ship on the trading leg from Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires, including olive oil, wax for candles, rum, red wine, and sugar. 1801, Archivo General de la Nación, Argentina  
  • From the archive:
    From the archive:  Fabric samples in a trader's book (anon.), containing advice about products and prices in Buenos Aires. 1810, Rhode Island Historical Society  
  • From the archive:
    From the archive:  Judicial document opening an investigation into the American ship "The Marianna" for smuggling contraband. 1801, Archivo General de la Nación, Argentina  
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Professor Fabricio PradoThe COLL 100 course: Atlantic Empires and Globalization. The big idea: Globalization as we know it today has its origins in the 16th century, and shaped the rise of Atlantic empires, ecological transformation, coerced and free migrations, and patterns of trade that transformed societies on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean and beyond.

Professor Fabricio Prado (History) taught the course in Fall 2016. During the course, students learned how to conduct research using digital databases. They produced web pages for their final projects.

"Toward the end of the semester, several students approached me to ask if they could do more work like this," said Professor Prado. The answer, it turns out, is yes.

Prado is at work on a book manuscript titled Inter-American Connections: North-South American Networks in the Age of Atlantic Revolutions. His central thesis is that trans-Atlantic trade was crucial to the building of new republics (including the United States) in the western hemisphere. The new documents and examples he uncovers become part of the history courses he teaches, including the COLL 100 course.

Robert Collie '20: "The stories of ship voyages jump right out from the pages upon pages of numbers and city names. I could have never imagined such an illustrative take on historical data."

"By using my research as examples, I feel that I can better illustrate the nature of these historical processes and make it very tangible to my students," said Prado.

Anatoly Osgood '20: "From researching with Professor Prado, I developed my social science research methods immensely, gained invaluable experience in SPSS, and began to understand what serious historical research really looks like."

Funded in part by the Arts & Sciences Annual Fund, his project connects archival research, analysis, and the development of a new database – and involves students as part of the team.

This past summer he traveled to South America to conduct research in several archives. "I was looking primarily at the mercantile and personal correspondence of two big merchant houses of Buenos Aires," Prado said.

At the Archivo General de la Nación [Argentina] he consulted the main collection of manuscript documents in Sala IX. At the Museo Historico, he found a collection of merchants’ correspondence that has not yet been catalogued. He also traveled to Uruguay to consult documents in the Archivo General de la Nación in Montevideo.

At each location he was able to photograph items for cataloging in the project's planned TransAtlantic Connections online database.

The new database will join two existing databases with related material: Final Passages, a database of inter-American slave trade, and Slave Voyages: The Online TransAtlantic Slave Trade Database. Prado's database will follow their "code books" and match their labels for places, types of ships, currencies, and so forth, and use the same underlying software. Compatibility among the three resources ensures they will develop in the most useful way for future scholars.