Academic Staff

Dr Sean Kelley
Telephone01206 874194
Office hoursThu 12-2

I grew up in San Francisco, California and received my Ph.D. from the University of Texas. I taught at several institutions in the US before coming to Essex in 2015.


B.A. San Francisco State University
M.A. University of Texas
Ph.D. University of Texas

Current research

I am working on my third book, which examines the involvement of North American merchants in the transatlantic slave trade from 1644-1865. I am also involved in the SHADD Biographies Project, a collaborative effort by historians on four continents to collect, transcribe, and publish the autobiographical testimonies of Africans from the era of the slave trade. Our work has received funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Council of Canada and is scheduled to be completed in 2017.

Research interests

New World slavery
The transatlantic slave trade
Africans in the Americas
Transnational mercantile networks and connections
Maritime history
Testimony, autobiography, and narrative in African and Atlantic history
Global and transnational approaches to history

Teaching responsibilities

HR229: Resistance and Rebellion in the World of Atlantic Slavery

HR328: Maritime Life in the Age of Sail

HR629: The Transatlantic Slave Trade



The Voyage of the Slave Ship Hare: A Journey into Captivity from Sierra Leone to South Carolina, University of North Carolina Press, 2016

Los Brazos de Dios: A Plantation Society in the Texas Borderlands, 1821-1865, Louisiana State University Press, 2010

Articles and Book Chapters:

"Recovering the Stolen Histories of American Slaves," Zocalo Public Square (August 2016), online at

(with Henry B. Lovejoy) "The African-Born Population of Antebellum Texas: A Research Note," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 120 (October 2016): 215-232..

“The Dirty Business of Panyarring and Palaver: Violence and the Slave Trade on the Upper Guinea Coast in the Eighteenth Century,” in Slavery, Abolition, and the Transition to Colonialism in Sierra Leone, Paul E. Lovejoy and Suzanne Schwarz, eds. (Trenton, N.J.: Africa World Press, 2014)

“Scrambling for Slaves: Captive Sales in Colonial South Carolina,” Slavery and Abolition 34 (March 2013): 1-22.

“Slavery and the Texas Border,” in Pekka Hämäläinen and Benjamin Johnson, eds., Major Problems in the History of North American Borderlands (2011), pp. 321-29; also in Major Problems in Texas History (2015). Reprint of “Mexico in His Head,” Journal of Social History (2004).

“Blackbirders and Bozales: The Illegal Slave Trade to Texas in the 1830s,” Civil War History 54 (December 2008): 406-423.

“A Texas Peasantry?: Black Smallholders in the Texas Sugar Bowl,” Slavery and Abolition 28 (August 2007): 193-210.

“‘Mexico in his Head’: Slavery and the Texas Border, 1810-1860,” Journal of Social History 37 (Spring 2004): 709-723.

Additional information

I am accepting M.A. and Ph.D. students who are interested in studying New World slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.

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