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Specialist in Cornish Mining Migration – Sharron P Schwartz

BA, Ph.D  email: [email protected]

Exploring the Cornish mining landscape of Mexico
Sharron exploring mine sites in Pachuca, Mexico
Voices book launch
The launch of her book ‘Voices’
Exploring old mine workings
Exploring Parys Mountain Mine, Anglesey, Wales
Cornish in Latin America book launch
Launch of the ‘Cornish in Latin America’ book, with the Peruvian Ambassador to UNESCO
Exploring where Cornish miners worked in Chile
Exploring an abandoned mine in the Atacama Desert, Chile

Sharron Schwartz, a specialist in Cornish mining migration, is an historian and award-winning author who was born and bred in Redruth, Cornwall. She is a history graduate of London University and did her PhD on Cornish mining migration to Latin America at the University of Exeter. Sharron is a specialist in Cornish mining migration, transnational communities and the Cornish Diaspora, with over 30 years of research in these fields. These interests closely reflect her lived experience, for scores of her ancestors on both sides of her family tree migrated to mining areas worldwide during what has been dubbed ‘Cornwall’s Great Migration.’ She therefore grew up hearing  their stories.

Sharron was awarded the Gorsedh Kernow’s Holyer an Gof Prize for her Lanner: A Cornish Mining Parish in 1998, hailed as a landmark study in Cornish local history, and was shortlisted for the same award in 2017 for her most recent book (right). In 1998, under the aegis of the University of Exeter, she set up the Cornish Migration Programme at Murdoch House, Redruth. As the Cornish are statistically invisible and officially recorded as English, the aim was to verify all those migrants thought to be Cornish by nominally linking their names with other data to definitively link them to a Cornish parish. Each person was then entered into a database with the aim of making this information searchable online to aid in family and other research. The material was able to inform new avenues of both qualitative and quantitative research.

She also taught history at the University of Exeter’s Department of Lifelong Learning at both undergraduate and postgraduate level for eight years.

Sharron was the Documentary Researcher for the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site Bid with Cornwall County Council from 2001-2003 and from 2004-2006, Leverhulme Research Fellow in Migration Studies with the University of Exeter. In 2006, she was awarded funding by the British Academy for a comparative study of mining migrants from Cornwall and Cork, using nominal record linkage techniques to follow them to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, USA.

Sharron was instrumental in setting up the Cornish-Mexican Cultural Society and was the author of a booklet entitled Mining a Shared Heritage; Mexico’s ‘Little Cornwall’. This was published in Spanish and English in 2011 to raise awareness of the historic links between Cornwall and the State of Hidalgo, and features a foreword by the British Ambassador to Mexico, Giles Paxman LVO.

After moving to Ireland in 2008, she helped to organise the Forgotten State of Industry Conference. This was hailed by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government as one of the most important conferences to occur in Ireland in recent years. She served as Editor of the Mining Heritage Trust of Ireland’s journal and newsletter from 2014-2017. See

In 2016 Sharron finally published her research on the Cornish in Latin America, which was the subject of her PhD. Entitled The Cornish in Latin America: ‘Cousin Jack’ and the New World, this major study highlights the significant Cornish contribution to the British development of nineteenth century Latin American mining resources for the first time. It lists the Cornish who made an impact in mining fields across countries such as Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and Cuba, telling their incredible pioneering stories for the first time. It is also ground-breaking in setting the Cornish migration experience firmly within a transnational context.

Over the last 20 years, Sharron has participated in, or provided consultancy to, numerous heritage projects. These range from community-based ventures to UNESCO World Heritage Site applications on behalf of a national government department. Some projects she has been involved with are: the Mining Villages Regeneration Project; The Mineral Tramways Heritage Project; Celtic Copper; Europamines: The European Mining Heritage Network; European Routes of Industrial Heritage; Metal Links: Forging Communities Together; and the Heartlands Project. She has provided consultancy to Cornwall Council, the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site office; Kerrier District Council; Wicklow County Council; and the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government (Republic of Ireland).

Her most recent project has been the production of a documentary film, and the design and content provision for a major new exhibition on mining migration at Heartlands, Pool, Redruth.

She is currently writing the biography of Cornish mining engineer, Captain John Penberthy, who spent the majority of his remarkable career in the Spanish Americas.

She is the author of numerous books and scholarly articles (see Publications) and has addressed conferences in the United States of America, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, The Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Czechia, Ireland, Wales and England.

Sharron is available in a consultancy capacity, or to deliver presentations or workshops in person, or electronically.  


Cornish in Latin America
The Cornish in Latin America: ‘Cousin Jack’ and the New World

“In this new and comprehensive study Sharron Schwartz stands considerably apart from her predecessors. A Redruth girl herself, her prime concern is with her fellow-Cornish overseas in Latin America; their adventures and achievements, their families, descendants and associates, their legacies matching those of the Scots in New Zealand or the Welsh in Patagonia.”

The late Professor Charles Thomas

“This publication addresses a glaring gap in the literature covering Cornish-related migration studies. But more importantly, it demonstrates the significant Cornish contribution to the British development of nineteenth century Latin American mining resources, thus ensuring that the labour migrants from this small and remarkable region of Britain are finally recognised for their involvement in this process”.

Julian German, Chair, Cornwall and West Devon Mining Landscape World Heritage Site Partnership