Dr Sean Kelley

Senior Lecturer
Department of History
Dr Sean Kelley
  • Email

  • Telephone

    +44 (0) 1206 874194

  • Location

    5NW.8.16, Colchester Campus

  • Academic support hours

    M, 1330-1430 Th, 1330-1430



I was always interested in history but actually started as a student of International Relations. One day I realised that I was spending all of my free time reading history books. It dawned on me that by switching to history, my leisure and studies would be united. 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. 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. I am accepting M.A. and Ph.D. students who are interested in studying New World slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.


  • B.A. San Francisco State University

  • M.A. University of Texas

  • Ph.D. University of Texas

Research and professional activities

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 and supervision

  • Modern Revolutions in Science, Politics, and Culture (CS101)

  • Europe: Myth and Idea (CS102)

  • Introduction to Contemporary Latin America (CS141)

  • Crisis of the American Idea (CS261)

  • The Making of the Modern World since 1750 (HR100)

  • Resisting Empire (HR104)

  • Europe Transformed: 1450-1750 (HR111)

  • The Great American Experiment (HR162)

  • Approaches to History (HR211)

  • Maritime Life in the Age of Sail (HR329)

  • Slavery and Plantation Societies in Latin America (HR374)

  • Research Project (HR831)


Journal articles (9)

Kelley, SM., American Rum, African Consumers, and the Transatlantic Slave Trade. African Economic History

Kelley, SM., New World Slave Traders and the Problem of Trade Goods: Brazil, Barbados, Cuba, and North America in Comparative Perspective. English Historical Review

Kelley, SM. and Lovejoy, HB., (2016). The Origins of the African-Born Population of Antebellum Texas: A Research Note. Southwestern Historical Quarterly. 120 (2), 216-232

Kelley, SM., (2016). Seeds of Empire: Cotton, Slavery, and the Transformation of the Texas Borderlands, 1800-1850. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW. 121 (4), 1276-1277

Kelley, SM., (2016). Recovering the Stolen Histories of American Slaves. Zocalo Public Square

Kelley, S., (2013). Scrambling for Slaves: Captive Sales in Colonial South Carolina. Slavery & Abolition. 34 (1), 1-21

Kelley, S., (2008). Blackbirders and Bozales: African-born slaves on the lower Brazos river of Texas in the nineteenth century. Civil War History. 54 (4), 406-423

Kelley, S., (2007). A Texas Peasantry? Black Smallholders in the Texas Sugar Bowl, 1865–1890. Slavery & Abolition. 28 (2), 193-209

Kelley, S., (2004). "Mexico in His Head": Slavery and the Texas-Mexico Border, 1810-1860. Journal of Social History. 37 (3), 709-723

Books (2)

Kelley, SM., (2016). The voyage of the slave ship hare: A journey into captivity from Sierra Leone to South Carolina. UNC Press Books. 1469627698. 9781469627700

Kelley, SM., (2010). Los Brazos de Dios: A plantation society in the Texas borderlands, 1821-1865. 9780807136874

Book chapters (4)

Kelley, SM., 'Twelve Years a Slave' and the 'Unthinkability' of Enslaved Autobiography. Palgrave

Kelley, S., (2019). Precedents: The 'Captured Negroes' of Tortola, 1807-1822. In: Liberated Africans and the Abolition of the Slave Trade, 1807-1896. Editors: Anderson, R. and Lovejoy, HB., . University of Rochester Press

Kelley, SM., (2015). The Dirty Business of Panyarring and Palaver: Slave Trading on the Upper Guinea Coast in the Eighteenth Century. In: Slavery, Abolition and the Transition to Colonialism in Sierra Leone. Editors: Lovejoy, P., . Africa World Press. 89- 108. 1592219837. 9781592219834

Kelley, SM., (2011). Slavery and the Texas Border. In: Major Problems in the History of North American Borderlands: Documents and Essays. Editors: H�m�l�inen, P. and Johnson, BH., . Wadsworth. 321- 329

+44 (0) 1206 874194


5NW.8.16, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

M, 1330-1430 Th, 1330-1430