“Documenting Africans in Trans-Atlantic Slavery” (DATAS) develops an innovative method to examine African ethnonyms from the era of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, circa 1500-1867. The project centers on the need to understand the origins and trajectories of people of African descent who populated the trans-Atlantic world in the modern era. The project treats ethnonyms as decision making tools for analyzing social differentiation that can result in inequalities and racism. The project examines concepts that require rethinking entrenched assumptions about data justice, research transparency and the agency of populations.