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Archives and special collections


The Library's archive and rare print collections contain a significant amount of historical material relating to politics, economics and society in Africa, including:

Personal papers of the journalist and activist, E D Morel|, the driving force behind the Congo Reform Association of 1904-1912 and the campaign against forced labour in the Congo Free State.

Field notes and related papers of the anthropologists Virginia Adam| (Tanzania), Phyllis Kaberry| (Cameroon), Siegfried Nadel| (Nupe and Nuba peoples), Audrey Richards |(Zambia), Isaac Schapera| (Botswana), and Charles and Brenda Seligman |(Sudan).

Records of the International African Institute|, founded in 1926 to promote 'the education of the public in the study of Africa and its languages and cultures'

Papers on East Africa|, 1928-1931, collected by Sidney Webb during his service Colonial Secretary, in particular relating to the Joint Parliamentary Committee set up to consider closer union with East Africa

A variety of documents relating to British government policy towards former colonies in Africa, 1960s-1990s, for example in the papers of the journalist Alastair Hetherington|, and those of the Labour MPs George Wigg|, Andrew Faulds| and Peter Shore|.

A range of rare books and historical pamphlets, dating from the 17th to the 20th centuries, in particular focussing on travel and exploration, trade and commerce (especially the slave trade), European colonisation, and post-colonial South Africa and apartheid.

For further information

  • consult our online catalogues: the Archives Catalogue for archives, Library Search  for print
  • search our blog
  • contact us - as well as advising you on our collections, we can help you identify material held by other UK archives.

Note that primary source descriptions often use contemporary place and country names only, as they occur in the original documents, so bear this in mind when choosing search terms.


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