Journey to St. Helena Island!

Hello Everyone! I am Gretchen Johnson, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Biology at Howard University. On March 10, 2018, I will arrive on St. Helena Island, one of the world's most remote islands located in the South Atlantic Ocean to conduct research for my doctoral dissertation!
I am investigating the human remains of a historic population of Liberated Africans who were previously enslaved Africans from the 1830s and 1840s on their way to enslavement in the Americas but the slave ships they were on were turned around at sea by the British Royal Navy. Many of these would-be ancestors were dropped off on St. Helena and then sent on to either Cape Town, South Africa, Kingston, Jamaica, Trinidad, Guiana and Freetown, Sierra Leone as indentured servants.

Over 8,000 of the Liberated Africans died on St. Helena Island and were buried in Rupert's Valley on the island due to the traumatic effects of the transatlantic slave trade. The human remains of the Liberated Africans were discovered on St. Helena Island during construction of an airport on the island. Approximately 350 of the Liberated Africans have been exhumed.

In order to preserve the history and legacy of the Liberated Africans, I will be collecting samples of the skeletal remains before reburial of this historic population. I am looking forward to unlocking the history within the DNA of the skeletal remains, as they are a vital part of our history. DNA analyses of the skeletal remains from the graveyards will be key in unraveling this critical part of history, filling gaps in the slave trade and the African Diaspora.

Valuable history, legacy and the opportunity to preserve one of the only remaining historical Liberated African populations of the transatlantic slave trade will be fulfilled in this research.

In order to successfully complete this research, I need your help!

I have already received support from National Geographic and the Just-Julian Fellowship @ Howard University. However, I need additional funding and support to conduct the downstream molecular genomic analyses on this historic population of Liberated Africans that were discovered on St. Helena Island. Once I complete sample collection of the skeletal remains on the island, I will be conducting ancient DNA extraction, quantification and sequencing on this historic population of Liberated Africans.

Understanding the identity of this population of individuals is key in helping to piece together this missing history of the transatlantic slave trade! DNA sequencing will help to piece together this history accurately, unveil the stories of the Liberated Africans and preserve their legacy!

In general, DNA sequencing costs thousands of dollars! I need your help in subdsidizing:

- Cost of DNA sequencing and additional supples required for molecular genomic analyses of ancient skeletal remains.

- Travel & transportation costs to various research facilities in order to successfully conduct DNA sequencing.

Please help me in bringing this research to life through my GoFundMe! ..if you can donate any amount I would be greatly appreciative!

Not only will you be supporting this research through the successful completion of my doctoral dissertation but you will also help to preserve the legacy of the Liberated Africans on St. Helena Island! Collaborative efforts of the USA, St. Helena and countries in Africa will ensure the continued legacy of the Liberated Africans. 

Also, please visit my Blog for updates on my research progress on St. Helena Island!

  • Hebrew Academy Tidewater 5th Grade
    • $246 
    • 45 mos
  • Joy Milfort
    • $25 
    • 48 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $25 
    • 54 mos
  • Anonymous
    • $20 
    • 54 mos
  • Michael Wilson
    • $10 
    • 54 mos
See all


JourneyTo St Helena
Alexandria, VA

Your easy, powerful, and trusted home for help

  • Easy

    Donate quickly and easily.

  • Powerful

    Send help right to the people and causes you care about.

  • Trusted

    Your donation is protected by the  GoFundMe Giving Guarantee.