Final Proposal

Slave Sale 1775-1865

The data presented in the Slave Sale is about the basic information needed when selling slaves. The data consist of numeric, textual, and geographic information. Within the spreadsheet there are nine columns: state, county, date entry, gender, age, appraisal value, skills and defects. Unfortunately, the data is only specific to seven southern states: Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia, North/South Carolina, Mississippi, and Maryland. Aside from the states the counties listed can provide inside on how selling of slaves might have been different within that specific state. The date entries, age and value are all numerical information. As for the date, the entries begin at 1775 and end in 1865. In the data there were many slaves whose age were unknown, from the information given the oldest age was approximately 60 and the youngest was about 3. The lack of age information is due to many slaves/slave masters not knowing or keeping track of when each individual slave was born, some of the ages given may also just be an estimate based on the slaves appearance. The appraisal value given to each slave were obviously the amount the slave master expected to receive after he sold his slave(s). The last category gender, skill and defect were all textual information. The slaves were either males or females and both genders possessed skills. For instance, the men had skill such as cabinet makers or gardeners and women would be cooks or midwives. As for defects, being old or too young fell under this category. Also, deformities and disabilities were considered a defect.

There are many connection between each columns in the data. However, this data still lacks information such as names of slavse and a better record of age. Despite the missing information, the data shows how slaves labeled as defects were appraised at a significantly less value than those who were not labeled. Another comparison is that men were sometimes sold at a higher value than women, but once age plays a roles and not only gender you see that slaves  in there 20-30’s were sold at the highest value. The data can answer question like What types of skills did slaves posses? What were considered defects? and How does gender and age link to slaves appraisal value? However the data cannot give information as to how were slaves appraised? Were these slave masters looking for women who could bear children or looking for men who were physically well?

One thought on “Final Proposal

  • April 11, 2016 at 9:52 PM

    You’re on a good track with the age, skill and gender ideas. You’ll need to try a couple different visualization drafts to find examples that will be useful–try looking for what the most common male vs female skills are (measure>count) or the average age of men with certain skills.

    For thinking about defects, take a careful look at what kinds of terms are used and keep in mind who was writing the slave sales records–something like tardy or slow might take on a different meaning if you take into consideration that work slowage (sort of like a strike, but without stopping all together) was often the only way enslaved people had of protesting.

    Great observation with the correlation between age and value. It may be worth testing out if this is true for different categories–ie, were men with valued skills like blacksmiths and bakers still highly valued late in life, when men with common skills like laborer and field hand were starting to be valued less? Did women’s perceived value peak at a different age than men’s values?

    Give some careful thought to how you’re grouping your skills–how do you know what was more valued? If you group something together based on how you perceive its value, rather than how it was valued by the people who made the records, you may skew your numbers for that category up or down.

Comments are closed.