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Finding reference materials

The Library contains many printed dictionaries, directories and encyclopedias which cover all aspects of African history politics and culture. They are useful for checking facts and figures and offering brief overview articles. Some of them are for reference use only,  while others may be borrowed.

To locate them search by keyword on Library Search . You can refine your search by choosing the options on the left once you have run your search.

Key titles include:

Titles in the historical dictionary series published by Scarecrow Press

The Library also has a growing collection of online dictionaries and encyclopedias that you can use off-campus.

Biographical information

Try the Worlds Who to find biographical information on world leaders.

Experts Directory - maintained by the Africa Portal.

International Directory of African Studies Scholars
Maintained by Columbia University look for specialists by subject or country.

Country Information

Use these to get quick overviews of the history of specific nations and basic data.

CIA World fact Book
Country profiles updated annual by the US government.

Library of Congress Country Studies.
Basic descriptions of the history, politics and economy of nations worldwide.

Economist Intelligence Unit Country reports
A searchable database of regular reports on the economic and political situation of individual nations worldwide. LSE staff and students should log in with their network username and password.


Africa maps - from the Perry-Castañeda Library
Includes many CIA and political maps, current and historic.

Part of the Harvard University World Map project. It aims to draw together publicly available maps to enable users to access multi-disciplinary, multi-source and multi-format data maps. The View tab displays a base layer map (called Google Physical) when you first open WorldMap. You can choose from several other base layers by clicking the "+" symbol at the upper right to select and add other base layers. These layers include: historic maps, place names, environmental and democratic data. 


Afriterra maps
Free access to several hundred historic maps of Africa from Afriterra. The searchable catalogue has references to 5,000 original rare maps, engravings, archive papers and rare book text and references.

They cover seven languages (English, Latin, Dutch, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian) and date from approximately 1480 to 1900.

Items are gradually being digitised and you can sort results by those already digitized. It is possible to search by location or map maker. Check scale and publication details on individual records before use.

Interesting maps include:
Gold fields Transvaal 1877
Materials relating to empire British South Africa 1904.