The Search for History’s Lost Slave Ships
Play • 25 min

On the bottom of the world’s oceans lie historic treasures—the lost wrecks of ships that carried enslaved people from Africa to the Americas. Only a handful have been identified so far, but National Geographic explorer and Storytelling Fellow Tara Roberts is documenting the efforts of Black scuba divers and archaeologists to find more, hoping to finally bring their stories to light.

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Want more?

Follow Tara’s journey around the world on Instagram. And here’s the photo that Tara Roberts saw at the National Museum of African American History and Culture that inspired her to learn to scuba dive. Read about the last slave ship survivor, Matilda McCrear, and what her descendants make of her legacy. Tag along on a scuba mission with DWP divers in this video produced by National Geographic.

And for paid subscribers:

Read a History magazine article about the Clotilda, the ship that illegally smuggled 110 West Africans into the United States on the eve of the Civil War. We have another History magazine article about 1619, when the first enslaved Africans arrived in colonial North America

If you like what you hear and want to support more content like this, please consider a National Geographic subscription. Go to to subscribe today. 

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