Historical Records of the DeWolf Family, Series 3: Journal and manifest of Benjamin. S. Olney on board Ship I.s.I.s.

About the Project

The DeWolf family was one of the wealthiest New England families in the 18th-19th centuries and made their fortune from the transatlantic slave trade. Between 1769 and 1820, it is believed that DeWolf-owned vessels carried more than 12,000 enslaved Africans across the Middle Passage. The DeWolf family owned numerous sugar and coffee plantations in Cuba, where sugar from the plantations was made into molasses, transported to Rhode Island in DeWolf vessels, and transformed into rum in DeWolf-owned distilleries. The rum was then taken to Africa and used as payment for enslaved captives, who were transported across the Atlantic and eventually sold in Cuba and ports for tremendous profit. The profit generated from the transatlantic slave trade allowed the family to start a bank and insurance company. In 1808, Congress banned the import of enslaved people into the United States. The DeWolf family turned to new ventures to keep their wealth, including privateering and establishing the Arkwright Mill in Coventry, Rhode Island, which processed and manufactured cotton harvested by enslaved people. Help us transcribe this important collection that documents the business of the transatlantic slave trade and how the DeWolf family profited off the institution of slavery.

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Difficulty

(5 out of 5)
(details)

Level 1 --- BEGINNER

Content: all typed
Language: English
Format: letters, diaries, flyers, pamphlets, and one-page documents
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: none required

Level 2

Content: mostly typed, handwritten in print, or otherwise very clearly written/readable
Language: English
Format: memorabilia, advertisements, image captions, telegrams, diaries, letters, notes
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: none required

Level 3 --- INTERMEDIATE

Content: typed and handwritten materials in cursive or print
Language: English
Format: newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, letters/diaries/notes that may include annotations or margin notes
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: experience reading cursive writing may be useful

Level 4

Content: handwritten materials, primarily in cursive or somewhat difficult to read (predominantly from the 19th and 20th centuries) , audio recordings that are relatively easy to hear/decipher, and scientific materials
Language: English and/or other languages that use Roman script but may require the use of diacritics (French, Spanish, German, Italian, etc.)
Format: audio recordings, letters, diaries, notes and other written materials, projects with templated fields and special instructions
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: some knowledge of non-English Roman-character/script languages and diacritics may be useful, as well as experience reading cursive handwriting. A general knowledge or familiarity with scientific terminology.

Level 5 --- ADVANCED

Content: handwritten materials in cursive (from the 19th century or earlier) or in a non-Roman script language, audio recordings that are difficult to hear or are not in English, specialty materials/projects such as numismatics projects and the Project Phaedra notebooks 
Language: foreign languages that use non-Roman characters (Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Greek/Cyrillic, Native American and Indigenous languages, etc.) and English 
Format: audio recordings, columned data/tables, manuscripts, letters, diaries, notes, currency sheets, coins
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: knowledge of a specific language and access to a keyboard with the characters in that language may be required for certain projects. Experience reading cursive handwriting and familiarity with 19th century (or prior) handwriting and conventions/abbreviations may be useful, as well as knowledge of scientific terminology, astrophysics data, or linguistics.

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