Professor Suzanne Schwarz

Candid headshot of Suzanne Schwarz

Professor of History

School of Humanities

History, Politics and Sociology

Contact Details


Teaching & Research


Suzanne Schwarz’s teaching at the 桔子短视频 focuses on the transatlantic slave trade and its abolition in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. She also focuses on developing historical research skills for students through the study of regional and local history in Worcestershire. She is Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, and has received three student-led awards for her teaching at the 桔子短视频. In 2023, she received the student award for ‘Excellence in Doctoral Supervision’.

Professor Schwarz has supervised two recent Ph.D dissertations on nineteenth-century Sierra Leone based on archival sources held in the Sierra Leone Public Archives in Freetown. She welcomes enquiries from students who are interested in undertaking postgraduate study on the transatlantic slave trade, slavery and abolition.

Current Research

Suzanne Schwarz’s research interests focus on the transatlantic slave trade and abolition in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Her latest publication focuses on Professor Schwarz is part of an international collaborative research project at the Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on Africa and its Diasporas at York University, Toronto. This research project draws together scholars from across four continents and traces the ‘Testimonies of West Africans from the Era of Slavery’. She is Principal Investigator for a British Library Endangered Archives project to preserve rare documentary sources in the Sierra Leone Public Archives at Freetown. The current project (EAP1366) focuses on ‘’, and the previous phase of the project (EAP782) is entitled ‘. Her research on Sierra Leone also examines the development of the colony, and the ways in which abolitionists attempted to undermine the slave trade and reform African economy and society through policies of ‘Commerce, Civilization and Christianity’.

Professor Schwarz is an Honorary Fellow at the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull, and was an external consultant for the development of the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool in 2007. A play based on her book, Slave Captain: The Career of James Irving in the Liverpool Slave Trade, was performed at the International Slavery Museum in July 2010. Professor Schwarz has given keynote and invited lectures in various locations, including York University, Toronto, Universidad de Costa Rica, Université Paris Diderot, the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull and the Museu Vivo do São Bento in Brazil. She is a regular contributor to the annual conferences of the African Studies Association in the US. She has presented other conference and seminar papers at the University of Sierra Leone, the University of Cape Town, Yale University, the International Institute for Languages and Cultures in Fez, the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Southampton. Professor Schwarz’s research has attracted external funding from the Leverhulme Trust, the British Library, the Economic History Society, the Huntington Library in California, the Society for Nautical Research, and the Scouloudi Foundation in association with the Institute of Historical Research. She has collaborated on a number of international research initiatives funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Trans-Atlantic Platform for Social Innovation Call.

Professor Schwarz gave an online public lecture at the Hay Literary Festival in May 2021 entitled ‘Reconstructing the Life Histories of Enslaved Africans’. She was an historical adviser for the BBC2 documentary series, Black and British: A Forgotten History, and also for the UNESCO series of films entitled ‘. She also provided historical advice for the programme ‘ on the BBC World Service.

Professional Bodies

Fellow of the Royal Historical Society

Committee Member of Fontes Historiae Africanae (The British Academy), 2011-

Vice President of the Hakluyt Society, 2016-2021

Select Publications

‘Land and Settlement: Temne Responses to British Abolitionist Intervention in Sierra Leone in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries’, African Economic History, 49 (2021), pp. 222-248.

‘The Impact of Liberated African “Disposal” Policies in Early Nineteenth-Century Sierra Leone’, in Richard Anderson and Henry B. Lovejoy, eds., Liberated Africans and the Abolition of the Slave Trade 1807-1896 (Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2020).

‘Adaptation in the Aftermath of Slavery: Women, Trade and Property in Sierra Leone, c. 1790-1812’, in Mariana Candido and Adam Jones, eds., African Women in the Atlantic World 1660-1880. Property, Vulnerability and Mobility (Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer, 2019). This edited collection was awarded an ‘Honorable Mention’ in 2020 for the African Studies Review Prize for Best Africa-Focused Anthology or Edited Collection.

‘“A Just and Honourable Commerce”: Abolitionist Experimentation in Sierra Leone in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries’, African Economic History, 45, 1 (2017), pp. 1-45.

Suzanne Schwarz and Paul E. Lovejoy, eds., Slavery, Abolition and the Transition to Colonialism in Sierra Leone (Trenton, NJ: Africa World Press, 2015).

Robin Law, Suzanne Schwarz, and Silke Strickrodt, eds., Commercial Agriculture, the Slave Trade and Slavery in Africa (Woodbridge: James Currey, 2013). Republished in paperback in 2016.

‘Scottish Surgeons in the Liverpool Slave Trade in the Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries’, in T. M. Devine, ed., Recovering Scotland’s Slavery Past (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015).

‘Reconstructing the Life Histories of Liberated Africans: Sierra Leone in the Early Nineteenth Century’, History in Africa, 39 (2012), pp. 175-207.

Slave Captain: The Career of James Irving in the Liverpool Slave Trade, 2nd edition (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2008).

External Responsibilities

Honorary Fellow, Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull, 2010-Present

Principal Investigator: The British Library Endangered Archives Major Funding Bid, EAP1366, ‘Preserving Records of Social and Political Life in Nineteenth-Century Sierra Leone’, 2021-

Principal Investigator: The British Library Endangered Archives Major Funding Bid,

EAP782 ‘Preserving nineteenth-century records in the Sierra Leone Public Archives’, 2016-2019.

Georgian Papers Programme Fellowship at the Royal Archives, Windsor Castle, awarded by the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Virginia, 2016

External Examiner, Ph.D in History, SOAS, 2023.

External Examiner, Ph.D in History, York University, Toronto, 2019.

External Examiner, Ph.D in History, Akrofi-Christaller Institute, Ghana, 2016.

External Examiner, MA West Midlands History, University of Birmingham, 2015-2018.

External Examiner, Ph.D in History, Trinity College, Dublin, 2014.

External Examiner, MA History, Manchester Metropolitan University, 2010-2013.

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow of the Huntington Library, California, 2009.

External Consultant, International Slavery Museum, National Museums Liverpool, 2007.