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An etching from a painting of a slave auction in 1861 in Virginia. Photo: Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation granted $1.4 million to Michigan State University's Enslaved.org, a database developed by MSU researchers containing millions of records cataloging the lives of enslaved Africans and their descendants.

Why it matters: The open-access research platform, developed by historians, archivists, librarians, genealogists, data scientists and the general public, contains records on more than 600,000 people through which anyone can see the lives of the enslaved in richer detail.

What they're saying: "The early response to the Enslaved.org project has been overwhelmingly positive, but it also speaks to the great amount of work still to be done," said Dean Rehberger, principal investigator and director of Matrix, MSU's Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences.

  • “While we continue to digitize records, such as those that are handwritten, to preserve them, we know there is more to each person’s story,” Walter Hawthorne, project co-investigator, professor of African history and associate dean of academic and student affairs in MSU’s College of Social Science, said.

The big picture: The Mellon grant will help researchers expand the reach of the project by refining the data infrastructure, publishing more datasets and narrative stories and introducing new features for data visualizations.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Omicron's blitz around the world has underscored the need for a new arsenal of COVID vaccines and therapeutics, experts say — and that may require an effort akin to Operation Warp Speed 2.0.

Why it matters: The virus will continue to evolve, potentially in a way that further escapes vaccine protection, and the best way to prevent more global disruptions to everyday life is to have tools ready to combat whatever comes next.

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