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Tessa Murphy

Tessa Murphy

Contact Information:


520 Eggers Hall

Tessa Murphy

Associate Professor, History Department


HST 101: U.S. to 1865

HST 300: The Atlantic World: Rum, Smoke, & Steel

HST 300: Divided Loyalties: Empire and Allegiance in the Americas

HST 302: Early America

HST 303: The Age of the American Revolution

HST 331: Slavery and Freedom in the Americas

HST 600: Readings in Atlantic History

HST 804: Graduate research seminar

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., University of Chicago, 2016


Tessa Murphy’s research and teaching interests lie in the history of the colonial Americas, broadly defined to include the Caribbean, Central and South America, and what are now Canada and the United States. Her research has been supported by a number of institutions, including the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, France’s Institut National d’Études Démographiques, the John Carter Brown Library, the David Library of the American Revolution, and the Clements Library.

This support allowed her to pursue work on her first book, "The Creole Archipelago: Race and Borders in the Colonial Caribbean" (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021). The book traces British and French attempts to assimilate or remake colonial societies that evolved beyond the boundaries of European empire in the early modern Americas. “The Creole Archipelago,” a Choice Outstanding Academic Title, won the 2022 James A. Rawley Prize in Atlantic History from the American Historical Association and the Biennial Book Prize from the Forum on Early-Modern Empires and Global Interactions, and earned Honorable Mention for the Gilbert Chinard Prize from the Society for French Historical Studies.

She is now at work on a second book-length project that uses British colonial registries to shed light on the lives and genealogies of people enslaved on the plantation frontiers of the British Caribbean during the Age of Abolition. She offers courses on the colonial, revolutionary and early republican Americas; the Atlantic World; and comparative slavery and emancipation.


The Atlantic World, the early Americas in comparative perspective, the colonial Caribbean, slavery and race, the Age of Revolutions

Research Grant Awards and Projects

2023               Faculty fellowship, Humanities Center, Syracuse University

2020               Eccles Center Visiting Fellowship, British Library, London, U.K. (Postponed due to Covid 19)

2020-2022     Collaboration for Unprecedented Success and Excellence (CUSE) Seed Grant, Syracuse University

2019               National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, John Carter Brown Library, Providence, RI

2018               Jacob M. Price Visiting Research Fellowship, Clements Library, Ann Arbor, MI

2016               David Library of the American Revolution Fellowship, Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania

2015               John Carter Brown Library Associates Fellowship, Providence, Rhode Island

2014-2015     Quinn Foundation dissertation-year fellowship

2012-2013     Pre-doctoral fellowship, Institut National d’Études Démographiques, Paris

2011-2012     Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Doctoral Award

2012               Special Collections Research Fellowship, Hamilton College Library, Clinton, New York

2010-2013     Selected participant in Partner University Funded colloquium, “Migration, Material Culture, and Memory: Constructing Community in Mobile Worlds,” University of Paris X- Nanterre 


"The Creole Archipelago: Race and Borders in the Colonial Caribbean" (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2021)

Presentations and Events

Apr. 2022        “The Creole Archipelago: Race and Borders in the Colonial Caribbean.” Invited book talk, Center for Latin American Studies, University of Chicago, and the Seminary Co-op Bookstore, Chicago (virtual event).

Apr. 2022        “How to write academic book proposals.” French Colonial Historical Society (virtual event).

Mar. 2022        “From Kalinagos to Black Caribs: Racialization and Dispossession in the 18th century Caribbean.” Africa Initiative, Syracuse University.

Feb. 2022        “Afro-Indigenous Relations in the Lesser Antilles: Historical Narratives & Erasures in the Colonial Caribbean.” Bates College (virtual event).

Feb. 2022        “Resisting Empire: Opposition to Colonial Expansion.” Roundtable, Colonial Latin America History Section, American Historical Association, New Orleans, LA (virtual).

Nov. 2021       “The Creole Archipelago: Race and Borders in the Colonial Caribbean.” Latin American and Caribbean Studies Seminar Series, Cornell University.

Nov. 2021       “Kalinagos at the Edge of Empire: Indigenous People, the Catholic Church, and the French State in Eighteenth-Century St. Lucia.” Latin America and Caribbean Section, Southern Historical Association, New Orleans, LA (virtual).

Mar. 2020        “The Creole Archipelago: Race and Colonization in the Eastern Caribbean, 1660-1797.” John Carter Brown Library, Providence, RI.

May 2019        “Constructing narratives of resistance: The invention & dispossession of the ‘Black Caribs’ of St. Vincent.” Association of Caribbean Historians Annual Conference, Curaçao.

Mar. 2019        “From Creole to African in the Ceded Islands: Experiencing Transformations in Slavery after the Seven Years’ War.” Porter Fortune Symposium, University of Mississippi.

Mar. 2019        “Centering Slavery in the Ceded Islands, 1763-1773.” Lees Seminar, Rutgers University, Camden, N.J.

Sept. 2018       Early Modern Global Caribbean Symposium, John Carter Brown Library, Providence, R.I.

June 2018        “Negotiating Native Dominion in the Lesser Antilles, c.1635-1660,” Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture Conference, Williamsburg, VA

Apr. 2018        “The Creole Archipelago.” Manuscript roundtable, Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, Williamsburg, VA.

Apr. 2018        “Incorporating the Creole Archipelago: Sovereignty and Subjecthood in the Ceded Islands,” Entangled Histories: Making New Connections in Early America, c. 1750-1850, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, Philadelphia, PA.

Apr. 2017        “The Colony of a Colony? The establishment of plantations in Dominica, c. 1730-1763.” Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, Canada.

Jan. 2017         “Slave Societies Outside of Empire: The Neutral Islands of the Caribbean, 1700-1762” American Historical Association, Denver, CO.

Oct. 2016        “Laboring ‘beyond the line:’ Slavery in the Neutral Islands of the Southern Caribbean c. 1700-1762” Region and Nation in American Histories of Race and Slavery, sponsored by the Omohundro Institute for Early American History & Culture, Mount Vernon, VA 

Mar. 2016       “The Limits of the French Revolution: Fedon’s Rebellion, Grenada, 1795-1796.” Political Economy in the Age of Enlightenment and Revolution: Interdisciplinary Approaches. Neubauer Collegium, Chicago, IL.

Nov. 2015       “The Treaty of Paris and the Transformation of Port Towns in the Lesser Antilles, 1763-1773.” Port Cities in the Early Modern World, 1500-1800, co-sponsored by the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and Temple University.

Nov. 2015       “An Indigenous Archipelago: Kalinagos and Europeans in the Lesser Antilles, c. 1600-1700.” John Carter Brown Library, Providence, RI.

June 2015        “‘A Banditti of all nations:’ Trade in the Southern Caribbean during the American War of Independence.” Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture - Society of Early Americanists Joint Conference, Chicago.