Royal African Company Networks is a pilot project designed to explore the possibilities of using computational text analysis and GIS to investigate the correspondence of the Royal African Company, England’s late seventeenth-century African trade monopoly. Our project maps over 3,000 letters between the company’s main fort, Cape Coast Castle, in modern-day Ghana and the company’s ‘outforts,’ or smaller holdings on the coast. We then combine mapping with computational text analysis to draw out themes in the correspondence. We hope this project demonstrates the potential of bringing an interdisciplinary approach to historical analysis and serves as a stepping-stone for further exploration.

The Royal African Company Networks pilot project is part of the Visualizing Historical Networks Initiative at Harvard University’s Center for History and Economics.