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Zeeland Archives to Present Historical Slave Voyage to the UN

MIDDELBURG/GENEVA – The president of the United Nations Human Rights Council has invited the Zeeland Archives from the Netherlands, to Geneva on March 20th in order to present its project about the historical slave voyage aboard The Unity (1761-1763).

The Zeeland Archives created a blog and an educational website about a slave voyage taken 252 years ago. To recreate this voyage, archival information from the Middelburg Commerce Company (MCC) archives was used. The MCC specialized in trans-Atlantic slave trading during the 18th century. The blog features key players, from the slave voyage 252 years ago, who provide a daily report of the events aboard the ship. The Unity’s voyage began on 1 October 1761/2013 and will be completed on 26 March 1763/2015.

On the occasion of International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21st, the UN will convene in New York and Geneva on March 20th. On this day a debate entitled “Learning from historical tragedies to combat racial discrimination today” will take place in Geneva. The debate focuses on the need to preserve historical memory of past human tragedies, to design and make use of related educational and awareness materials for teaching and learning. The commemoration coincides with the commencement of the United Nations International Decade for People of African Descent (2015-2024). The commemoration is part of the 28th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Triangular trade or trans-Atlantic slave trade

The trans-Atlantic slave trade or triangular trade took place from the 16th till the 19thcenturies. Goods were traded for African people along the West-African coastal region. Once traded, enslaved Africans were held on board for the long voyage across the Atlantic. The Africans were sold into slavery on the plantations in the West Indies, while the ships returned home, loaded with coffee, sugar, tobacco or cacao. About 12 million Africans were traded in total. The Middelburg Commerce Company traded approximately 31.000 Africans during the 18th century.

Archives of the Middelburg Commerce Company online

UNESCO included the archives of the Middelburg Commerce Company (MCC) in the Memory of the World Register in 2011. Thanks to funding from Metamorfoze, the Dutch national program for the conservation of paper heritage, the Zeeland Archives was able to digitize the entire MCC archive. The scans (about 320.000) can be viewed via the archive’s online catalog: . Digitization will be completed in the summer of 2015. The Zeeland Archives is keeper of the MCC archives.

More information / interviews / images

For interviews, please contact the director of the Zeeland Archives and project leader, Mrs Hannie Kool-Blokland, telephone +31 118 678800, h.kool@zeeuwsarchief.nl

For background information and images, please contact the communications officer and project coordinator, Roosanne Goudbeek, telephone +31 678800, r.goudbeek@zeeuwsarchief.nl

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