Dr James Campbell

Associate Professor in American History

James CampbellContact details

  • Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2583
  • Email: jmc62@le.ac.uk
  • Office: Attenborough 613
  • Feedback and Support Times (Semester 2, 2020-21): By appointment only
  • Dissertation Hour (Semester 2, 2020-21): By appointment only

Personal details


I received my Ph.D. in 2004 from the University of Nottingham for a dissertation that examined issues of slavery, crime and punishment in nineteenth century Virginia. I was appointed the same year as a New Directions Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth and in 2007 I joined the School of History and the Centre for American Studies at Leicester. During this time, I have published three books and many journal articles and book chapters and my research has been funded by institutions including the British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Council. I have also served for three years as secretary of British American Nineteenth Century Historians (BrANCH) and organized two of the Association’s annual conferences in Leicester and Cambridge.


I teach courses on American history, with a particular focus on social and legal history.  At undergraduate level, I offer the optional modules Slavery in the Americas, Crime and Punishment in African American History, and Slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction in the United States.  I also teach the US history survey course on the period 1607 to 1877 and contribute to a variety of team-taught modules, including the American West and the American City.  I supervise dissertations at undergraduate and postgraduate level on topics concerning slavery, crime and punishment, civil rights, and nineteenth century history.

Examples of modules I teach:

  • Crime and Punishment in African American History
  • Slavery in the Americas
  • Slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction in the United States


Campbell JM, Campbell JM (2017) "Slavery," in A Companion to Crime and Criminal Justice History. Bristol: Policy Press, 2017.

Campbell J (2016) Family Bonds: Free Blacks and Re-enslavement Law in Antebellum Virginia. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW, 121 (2), pp. 568-569 10.1093/ahr/121.2.568

Campbell JM (2015) Murder Appeals, Delayed Executions, and the Origins of Jamaican Death Penalty Jurisprudence. Law and History Review, 33 (2), pp. 435-466 http://hdl.handle.net/2381/29218

Miller V, Campbell J (2014) Transnational penal cultures: New perspectives on discipline, punishment and desistance. pp. 1-234 10.4324/9781315815312 ISBN13: 9781317807193

Campbell, J.M. , Miller V (2014) Transnational Penal Cultures: New Perspectives on Discipline, Punishment and Desistance. ISBN10: 0415741319 ISBN13: 978-0415741316

Campbell J (2013) The death of Frank Wilson: Race, crime, and punishment in post-civil war Pennsylvania. American Nineteenth Century History, 14 (3), pp. 305-323 10.1080/14664658.2013.830385

Campbell J (2013) The Jury in Lincoln's America. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW, 118 (3), pp. 854-855 10.1093/ahr/118.3.854

Campbell JM (2012) Crime and Punishment in African American History. pp. 1-263 ISBN13: 9780230273801

Campbell JM (2011) Richmond, 1790-1828. In: Dilworth R (Eds.) Cities in American Political History pp. 134-140 ISBN10: 087289911X ISBN13: 9780872899117

Campbell J (2011) Law and Society in the South: A History of North Carolina Court Cases. JOURNAL OF SOUTHERN HISTORY, 77 (1), pp. 154-156

Campbell JM (2011) African Americans and Parole in Depression Era New York. Historical Journal, 54 (4), pp. 1065-1086 http://hdl.handle.net/2381/23142

Campbell JM (2010) You needn't be afraid here; you're in a civilized country: Region, racial violence, and law enforcement in early twentieth-century New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. Social History, 35, pp. 253-67 http://hdl.handle.net/2381/23163

Campbell JM (2008) Between Freedom and Bondage: Race Party and Voting Rights in the Antebellum North, Christopher Malone. Journal of American Studies, 42, Special Issue 03, pp. 602-603

Campbell J (2008) Between Freedom and Bondage: Race, Party, and Voting Rights in the Antebellum North. JOURNAL OF AMERICAN STUDIES, 42 (3), pp. 602-603 10.1017/S0021875808005756 http://hdl.handle.net/2381/21905

Campbell JM (2008) Reconstruction: People and Perspectives. ISBN13: 978-1-59884-021-6

Campbell JM (2008) African Americans in Southern Cities. In: Campbell JM, Fraser RJ (Eds.) Reconstruction: People and Perspectives pp. 45-66 ISBN13: 978-1-59884-021-6

Campbell J (2008) In the Shadow of the Civil War: Passmore Williamson and the Rescue of Jane Johnson. SLAVERY & ABOLITION, 29 (1), pp. 132-134

Campbell JM (2008) In the Shadow of the Civil War: Passmore Williamson and the Rescue of Jane Johnson, Nat Brandt and Yann Kroyt Brandt. Slavery and Abolition, 29.1, pp. 111-134

Campbell J (2008) Colored Amazons: Crime, Violence, and Black Women in the City of Brotherly Love, 1880-1910. AMERICAN NINETEENTH CENTURY HISTORY, 9 (1), pp. 90-91

Campbell JM (2007) Slavery on Trial: Race, Class, and Criminal Justice in Antebellum Richmond, Virginia. ISBN13: 978-0-8130-3091-3 http://hdl.handle.net/2381/3283

Campbell JM (2006) "Nat Turner". pp. 528-532 ISBN10: 0-313-33273-8

Campbell JM (2005) The Victim of Prejudice and Hasty Consideration: Urban Slave Society and the Slave Trial System in Richmond, Virginia, 1830-1861. Slavery and Abolition, 26 (1), pp. 71-91 10.1080/01440390500058871 http://hdl.handle.net/2381/2487

Campbell JM (2005) "Law of Slavery.".

Campbell JM (2005) "Law of Slavery". ISBN13: 978-0684313467

Campbell JM (2004) A Murderer of a somewhat dark complexion: Criminal Justice and Constructions of Race in Antebellum Virginia. American Nineteenth Century History, 5 (3), pp. 28-49 10.1080/1466465042000302755 http://hdl.handle.net/2381/2488

Campbell JM (2003) African American Victims and Responses to Crime in Antebellum Richmond, Virginia. US Studies Online, (3)

Campbell JM (0) The Death of Frank Wilson: Race, Crime, and Punishment in Post-Civil War Pennsylvania. American Nineteenth Century History, 10.1080/14664658.2013.830385


Research themes

My research focuses on issues of race and criminal justice in the Americas. In my first book, Slavery on Trial (2007), I looked at how race and class influenced policing, criminal trials, and the penal system in the slave city of Richmond, Virginia.  More recently, I have published Crime and Punishment in African American History(2012).  Drawing on original research and wide-ranging recent scholarship, this book explores everyday African American experiences of violence and law enforcement alongside famous trials and court decisions from the eighteenth century to the present. It uncovers the diversity of black experiences of criminal justice and argues that resistance to oppressive policing, punishment, and vigilante justice has advanced the broader struggle for black freedom and driven an ongoing process of criminal justice reforms.  It also makes the case that engagement with this complex history is critical to understanding the relationship between race and criminal justice in the present. Alongside this project, I have written a series of articles on aspects of race, violence and law enforcement in New York and Pennsylvania from the 1860s to the 1930s and co-edited a collection of essays and primary documents on the Reconstruction era.

Current research projects

I am currently working on a British Academy funded project examining the history of murder and the death penalty in Jamaica since the abolition of slavery.  My research aims to establish who was executed in Jamaica and why, analysing the role of social, economic, cultural and political developments in shaping popular and legal responses to murder and the decision to enforce the death penalty.  It also takes up questions of legal history, exploring issues such as the impact of Jamaica’s new Court of Appeal on capital sentencing in the 1930s and the growing involvement of the British government and the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) in Jamaican death penalty cases in the 1940s. The legal debates and death penalty practices of that period have significant connections to recent JCPC judgments that have prevented any executions taking place in Jamaica since 1988.

I am also co-editing a collection of original essays called Translating Penal Cultures which stems from two international seminars held in 2012 funded by the AHRC.


I welcome PhD applications on the following topics: slavery in the Americas, African American history, crime and punishment in the United States and/or the Caribbean, and nineteenth century US history.

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