New research indicates that the last living survivor of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in the U.S. was a woman named Redoshi—who survived slavery, the Civil War, and the Great Depression. The New York Times reports that Newcastle University researcher Hannah Durkin discovered that Redoshi survived the Middle Passage slave transit route at the age of 12 and died in 1937. Prior to Durkin’s research, it was thought that a man named Cudjo Lewis, who died in 1935, was the last living survivor of the slave trade.
Redoshi is believed to have been taken from an “area of West Africa that is now part of Benin” and brought to the U.S. in 1890 on the Clotilda, the “last recorded slave ship” to arrive in the U.S. after over two centuries of the slave trade. Redoshi was given the name “Sally Smith” upon her arrival, was made a child bride to an enslaved man, and endured five years of slavery at an Alabama plantation before she was emancipated. After she was freed, Redoshi reportedly told The Montgomery Advertiser that she stayed on the plantation—which was common for freed slaves. She also was featured in a 1938 Department of Agriculture film about ex-slaves becoming farmers, potentially making her the “only female Clotilda survivor who appeared on film.”