Segments in this Video

Ancestors in Bristol (03:26)


We see home videos of a 4th of July parade and the DeWolf family. Katrina Browne is shocked to learn that her ancestors were the largest slave trading family in US history.

Retracing the DeWolf Slave Trade Route (02:48)

Katrina Browne prepares to trace her history. In 2001, she meets with nine relatives at St. Michael's church in Bristol.

A Slave Trade Past Hidden in Plain View (03:59)

DeWolf descendants hear about slave trade connections in flippant ways. Katrina Browne receives few responses from relatives about tracing their history. A mural depicts Bristol's history.

Adjua and Palidor (01:44)

DeWolf descendants share their feelings about their connection to the slave trade. They visit a cemetery and find a slave headstone. A nursery rhyme recalls the gifting of slave children.

Slave Trade in the North (02:04)

Katrina Browne discusses the history of slavery in the North. Ledie Laughlin finds it very difficult to understand his DeWolf ancestors.

A Town Supports Slave Trading (04:02)

DeWolf descendants tour James DeWolf's warehouse in the harbor. They learn that the slave trade was big business in Bristol. The entire North is involved in the slave trade.

A Complicit State in the Slave Trade (02:47)

Katrina Browne explains the economic model the DeWolfs used from 1769-1820. We see historical records of slave purchases. Plantations in Cuba are holding places for Africans.

Physical Evidence of Slave Trading (03:52)

DeWolf descendants view equipment and records of the slave trade. They discuss the significance of the DeWolf name and how the DeWolf family maneuvered around the legality of slave trading.

DeWolfs in Ghana (02:33)

Ledie Laughlin shares his fears about going to Ghana. DeWolf descendants visit Cape Coast, Ghana. They learn the West African coast had over 70 slave forts and tour Elmina Castle.

Slave Fort in Cape Coast, Ghana (04:06)

DeWolf descendants discuss the Ghana slave trade with Kofi Anyidoho. They tour the castle fort in Ghana. Jim DeWolf Perry shares his feelings about Ghana. We see a vigil procession to the slave fort.

Door of No Return (02:12)

DeWolf descendants tour slave holding cells in Elmina Castle. They share their feelings about slavery. Ancestors honor the memory of the slaves. (Graphic language)

Panafest Festival (04:23)

DeWolf descendants witness ceremonies remembering slave suffering and celebrating survival; they begin to feel awkward. A Ghana historian discusses the participation of slave trade from an African point of view.

Acknowledging the Past (03:39)

DeWolf descendants share their feelings about their treatment at the Panafest Festival. They visit Kakum National Park where they learn that a slave girl their ancestors brought to their plantation was born on a Monday

A Reckoning at Town Hall (04:28)

At the town hall in Cape Coast, DeWolf descendants meet with many Ghanaians to discuss their connection to the slave trade and their feelings about race.

Flying the Slave Route (01:54)

Katrina Browne discusses slave trading along the African coast. The DeWolf family flies over the Middle Passage, Browne reflects on the slaves' journey.

Havana, One of the World's Largest Slave Markets (01:23)

DeWolf descendants visit Havana, Cuba. They learn that the DeWolfs had five sugar and coffee plantations on the island.

An Interesting Itinerary in Cuba (02:50)

DeWolf descendants attempt to locate a plantation their ancestors owned. They perform some of the tasks that slaves performed before eating a "slave meal."

Assuaging Guilt (04:11)

DeWolf descendants argue their feelings about slavery and redemption. Juanita joins the conversation and expresses her feelings about White people.

George DeWolf's Noah's Ark (04:06)

DeWolf descendants arrive at what is left of George DeWolf's plantation. Katrina Browne reads from the diary of the plantation overseer.

Parallel Universes (01:46)

Katrina Browne discusses the cycle of slavery, production, and consumerism in the North.

Owning Up to Privilege (04:16)

DeWolf descendants return to America after their three week journey through their past. They meet to discuss their next steps; they reflect on their lifestyles growing up and inherited privilege.

Modern Business Founded on Slave Trading Profits (00:39)

James DeWolf's textile mill, founded in 1810, is still going strong.

Reconciliation and Reparations (04:00)

DeWolf descendants interview experts and local citizens to consider reparations for slavery. They want to make a difference regardless of whether or not they should be held accountable for their family's actions.

Three Year Resolution for the Episcopal Church (04:12)

Katrina Browne and other DeWolf descendants go to the 75th annual Episcopalian Convention to push for reparations. Church members discuss resolutions to atone for slavery.

Facing the History of Bristol (03:36)

DeWolf descendants return to Bristol. Katrina Browne shares the true history of the town and her ancestors with church members.

Facing the Deep Divisions (02:31)

The minister at St Michale's Church offers a laying of the hands for healing; all the church members approach. Katrina Browne feels that we are ready for the healing of slavery.

Credits:Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North (04:12)

Credits:Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North

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Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North

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Katrina Browne was shocked to discover that her distinguished Rhode Island forebears had been part of the largest slave-trading dynasty in American history. Once she started digging, Browne found the evidence everywhere—in ledgers, ships’ logs, letters, and even in a local nursery rhyme. This film documents one family’s painful confrontation with their ancestors’ involvement in the slave trade, and in so doing reveals the pivotal role slavery played in the growth of the American economy. Browne invited two hundred descendants to join her on a journey to explore their past, retracing the route from their ancestors’ Bristol cemetery to the slave castles of Ghana and the ruins of a family plantation in Cuba. (86 minutes)

Length: 87 minutes

Item#: BVL49793

Copyright date: ©2008

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

Winner, Henry Hampton Award for Excellence in Film & Digital Media     


“A moving film.”  —Bill Moyers        


“A far-reaching personal documentary examination of the slave trade.... The implications of the film are devastating.”  The New York Times


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Not available to Home Video and Dealer customers.