This digital history project began in the national archives in Ghana. Interested in internal trade, I flipped through folders about preventative stations, trading routes, and markets. I continued to come across trade statistics maintained by colonial officials stationed along the Volta River and started to translate the information from paper files into a digital database. For me, the commodity data contained in the records reflects a social and economic history of West African communities connected by the traders who passed through the preventative stations. Volta River Commodities is a website that takes the first step in exploring that history by publishing the commodity database with contextual information.

A photograph of a Hausa trader from 1925 Hausa Trader, 1925: BMArchives


A precolonial history of traders moving across the Volta River.

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A document with trade statistics from the Kete-Krachi District in the Gold Coast in 1937-1938 Kete-Krachi District Report, 1938: Endangered Archives Programme


A description of the documents in the Ghanaian national archives with trade statistics.

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An image of a json file available for download on the data page A JSON File of the Commodities: Data Page


A description of the data available for download.

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Volta River Commodities was built as part of the Cultural Heritage Informatics initiative at Michigan State University, where I am a PhD student in the History Department.