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A German Barber-Surgeon in the Atlantic Slave Trade

The Seventeenth-Century Journal of Johann Peter Oettinger
Johann Peter Oettinger. Edited and translated by Craig Koslofsky and Roberto Zaugg

BUY Cloth · 222 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813944456 · $55.00 · Dec 2020
BUY Ebook · 222 pp. · ISBN 9780813944463 · $39.50 · Dec 2020

As he traveled across Germany and the Netherlands and sailed on Dutch and Brandenburg slave ships to the Caribbean and Africa from 1682 to 1696, the young German barber-surgeon Johann Peter Oettinger (1666–1746) recorded his experiences in a detailed journal, discovered by Roberto Zaugg and Craig Koslofsky in a Berlin archive. Oettinger’s journal describes shipboard life, trade in Africa, the horrors of the Middle Passage, and the sale of enslaved captives in the Caribbean.

Translated here for the first time, A German Barber-Surgeon in the Atlantic Slave Trade documents Oettinger’s journeys across the Atlantic, his work as a surgeon, his role in the purchase and branding of enslaved Africans, and his experiences in France and the Netherlands. His descriptions of Amsterdam, Curaçao, St. Thomas, and Suriname, as well as his account of societies along the coast of West Africa, from Mauritania to Gabon, contain rare insights into all aspects of Europeans’ burgeoning trade in African captives in the late seventeenth century. This journeyman’s eyewitness account of all three routes of the triangle trade will be invaluable to scholars of the early modern world on both sides of the Atlantic.


This is an extremely rare and uniquely insightful primary source that will be a landmark contribution to the historiographies of the Atlantic slave trade, African history, as well as German-speakers’ involvement in early modern colonial projects.

Birte Pfleger, California State University, Los Angeles, author of Ethnicity Matters: A History of the German Society of Pennsylvania

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