a slave auction ad (photo courtesy of WikiCommons)

Michigan State University is creating an online hub of data and documents related to the slave trade.

MSU says it’s using a roughly $1.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop a website that links collections from numerous universities. It’s designed to allow people to search millions of pieces of data to identify enslaved people and their descendants.

The project, called “Enslaved: The People of the Historic Slave Trade,” will take 18 months. Organizers say it underscores the school’s commitment to Africa-centered research.

Project leaders include Dean Rehberger, director of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Michigan State. He says participants can use the collection “to weave together lives of enslaved individuals once thought lost to history.”