Bunce Island Exhibit

The Bunce Island Exhibit enhances Georgia’s middle and high school American and World History curriculum through a traveling exhibit of 20-door-sized panels.

Kennesaw State University first purchased a copy of the exhibit in January of 2008 as part of its Year of the Atlantic World program and displayed the exhibit on the campus at KSU for the entire year where thousands of students were able to experience it firsthand. In January 2009, KSU secured a Georgia Humanities Grant to organize a series of teacher enrichment workshops for local area educators and develop supplemental teaching materials for educators and students that helped prepare schools to host the exhibit. The workshops were facilitated by a diverse group of scholars including the curator and designer of the exhibit, Professor Joseph A. Opala from James Madison University in Virginia. The exhibit has been displayed at numerous schools, libraries, and community organizations throughout the metro-Atlanta and Northwest Georgia region.
bunce island drawing of island and fort


The Story of Bunce Island

 Bunce Island is a slave castle located in the West African nation of Sierra Leone. Slave castles were commercial forts operated by European merchants during the period of the Atlantic slave trade. They have been called “warehouses of humanity.” Behind their high protective walls, European slave traders purchased Africans, imprisoned them, and loaded them aboard the slave ships that took them on the middle passage to America. Today, there were about 40 major slave castles located along the 2,000 miles of coastline stretching between Mauritania in the north and Benin in the south.

British slave traders operated on Bunce Island from about 1670 to 1807, exiling about 30,000 Africans to slavery in the West Indies and North America. While most of Bunce Island’s captives were taken to sugar plantations in the Caribbean Basin, a substantial minority went to Britain’s North American Colonies, and especially South Carolina and Georgia. Given the fact that only about 4% of the African captives transported during the period of the Atlantic slave trade went to North America, Bunce Island’s strong link to that region makes it unique among the West African slave castles.

Bunce Island’s commercial ties to North America resulted, as we shall see, in this particular castle and its personnel being linked to important economic, political, and military developments on that continent. Bunce Island figures in several significant ways in the history of the American Revolutionary War. And, later, after the war ended, the castle interacted intensively for twenty years with a community of freed slaves from North America established only 15 miles downriver. For these and other reasons, Bunce Island is arguably the most important historic site in Africa for the United States.

bunce island ruins

Bring Bunce Island to Your School

Interested in reserving the Bunce Island Exhibit to bring history to your school?

old sketch of bunce island

Exhibit Panels

1 A British Slave Castle in Sierra Leone
2 Acknowledgements
3 PART ONE: SLAVE CASTLE, Bunce Island, 1805
4 Sierra Leone, Bunce Island
5 Slave Castle, Castle Society
6 Human Commerce, Barter Trade
7 Slaves in Sierra Leone, 1805
8 "Wretched Victims," Africans in the Slave Trade
9 Pirates and the French Navy, Freetown Colony
10 Parliament Bans the Slave Trade, Eclipse of Bunce Island
11 PART TWO:  LINKS TO NORTH AMERICA, Libation on the Jetty
12 South Carolina & Georgia Rice Plantations, African Rice Coast
13 American Slave Ships, American Revolution
14 “Where History Sleeps,” Oral Traditions
15 Bunce Island Today, The Gullah Connection
16 “A Lot of Pain,” Priscilla’s Homecoming
17 Thomalind Martin Polite at Bunce Island, 2005
18 Imagining Bunce Island, Future of Bunce Island
19 The Ruins of Bunce Island
20 Help Us Preserve Bunce Island