George Albert Shepperson (1922- )
William Robertson Professor of Commonwealth and American History
George Shepperson joined the University staff in 1948, having completed his degree in History (which had been interrupted by his war service in the Northamptonshire Regiment, but on secondment to the King's African Rifles, in East Africa and Burma) and a Certificate of Education, both at Cambridge. He was appointed to the William Robertson Chair in 1963, and retired in 1986. His courses in Imperial (later Commonwealth) and American History became legendary, and many of his students have become world authorities in subjects in which he inspired their interest. The Library's exhibitions "A Miscellany of Americana" (1963) and "A Miscellany of Africana" (1966) were instrumental in awakening interest in some of the Library's historic research collections and establishing Edinburgh's reputation as an Americanist and an Africanist university.
Shepperson's great interest is the Black Diaspora, the history of the African peoples and their spread across the world. He has held Visiting Professorships, Fellowships and Scholarships on both sides of the Atlantic and in Africa itself, and his writings, notably his books "Independent African" (1958, 5th edition 1987), written in collaboration with Tom Price, "David Livingston and the Rovuma" (1964), and many contributions to books and learned journals round the world, are regarded as seminal.
The Library's research collections are the richer for the many collections of books and papers that he has gifted to the University as well as encouraging others to do. He became a founder member of the Friends of the University Library in 1962 and has served several times on its Committee.