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

    Thu. 930-1130



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)

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

  • The Great American Experiment (HR162)

  • Resistance and Rebellion in the World of Atlantic Slavery (HR229)

  • Human Rights in Historical Perspective (HR291)

  • Research Project (HR831)


Journals (7)

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

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

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)

Chapters (3)

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. 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. 321- 329

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

+44 (0) 1206 874194


5NW.8.16, Colchester Campus

Academic support hours:

Thu. 930-1130