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African History Primary Source Guide   Tags: africa, african history, history, primary sources  

A range of primary source material for the study of African history. Includes extensive manuscript collections, digital databases, microform, thematic categories, and newspapers and periodicals.
Last Updated: Apr 30, 2014 URL: http://guides.library.yale.edu/africanprimary Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Primary Sources by Country

  • Washington Office on Africa, Records.
    Publications, correspondence, reports, statements, and collected material document the work of the Washington Office on Africa and the issues addressed by its work. The Washington Office on Africa was founded in 1972 to support the movement for freedom from white-minority rule in southern Africa.
  • Washington Office on Africa, Records, Addendum A.
    This collection is an addendum to the publications, correspondence, reports, statements, and collected material documenting the work of the Washington Office on Africa found in Record Group 105. The Washington Office on Africa was founded in 1972 to support the movement for freedom from white-minority rule in southern Africa.
  • Washington Office on Africa, Records, Addendum B.
    This collection is an addendum to the publications, correspondence, reports, statements, and collected material documenting the work of the Washington Office on Africa found in Record Groups 105 and 105A. The Washington Office on Africa was founded in 1972 to support the movement for freedom from white-minority rule in southern Africa. Its activities have included the monitoring of Congressional legislation and executive policies and actions, as well as the publication of action alerts.
  • African Postcard Collection.
    circa 1900-2004. The collection consists of postcards depicting scenes from various countries on the African continent.
  • Zagourski (Casimir) African Postcards.
    The collection consists of approximately 250 postcards made from photographs taken by Casimir Zagourski in Africa between 1924 and 1941, which formed a part of his overall project, "L'Afrique Qui Disparait" (Disappearing Africa). The photos are set in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo (formally known as Belgian Congo), Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Chad, Kenya, Central African Republic, Cameroon, and Congo Brazzaville.
  • African Collection, Yale University Library, Records of the Curator.
    The records consist of lists, bibliographies, correspondence, finances and expenses, and publications documenting the activities and operations of the curator of the African Collection at Yale University Library.
  • African Liberation Movement Posters, Wallerstein (Immanuel) Collection.
    The collection consists of posters acquired by Immanuel Wallerstein which document liberation movements in numerous African countries.
  • African, Afro-, Native American, and Pacific Rim Arts Lantern Slide Collection.
    Collection consists of black and white glass lantern slides of the arts of African, Native American, and Pacific Rim cultures, including Australia and New Zealand, as well as Afro-Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Afro-Haitian, Afro-Mexican, Afro-Portuguese, Afro-Surinam, and Afro-American arts.
  • South Africa Collection.
    1990-2003. The collection consists of printed material and memorabilia relating to current political, economic, and social conditions in South Africa. The majority of the material pertains to the African National Congress and the first democratic election of April 27, 1994.
  • South Africa Historical Collection.
    1802-1961. The collection consists of correspondence; journals and diaries; government documents; reports and printed material of various organizations, political parties, and individuals; ephemera; and photographs which document various aspects of the history of South Africa and its political, economic, social, and cultural conditions from the colonial period of the 1800s to 1961, the year which marks the legalization of apartheid.
  • South African Apartheid Collection.
    The collection documents the apartheid system in South Africa and the different stages of the liberation struggle which was instrumental in bringing about the decline of the system. The collection consists of printed materials such as newsclippings, publications, reports, press releases, newsletters, pamphlets and newspapers of the South African government, parliamentary parties, non-parliamentary groups such as the African National Congress, and American and other foreign groups.
  • South Africa Now Collection.
    The collection consists of ca. 2600 videotapes and selected paper files relating to the production of the television program, South Africa Now.
  • South African Poster Collection.
    The collection consists of over three hundred posters and related oversized material which document the government and politics of South Africa, primarily from the era of apartheid to the first democratic elections open to all races in 1994.
  • James (Gordon) Papers.
    The collection consists of three photograph albums: photographs of game animals taken in South Africa and/or Namibia, 1900; souvenir album of the Otavi Mining Expedition, German S.W. Africa, 1901; and photographs of Namaqualand, Cape Province, South Africa, 1905.
  • Cheadle (Halton) Collection.
    The collection consists of legal papers and other materials from the firm of Cheadle, Thompson & Haysom of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. The firm represented Dr. Wendy Orr and forty-two other applicants in obtaining an interim restraining order against the South African police in September 1985. Included are affidavits of the applicants and printed matter relating to instances of excessive police force, legal challenges to the state of emergency measures, and legal aspects of apartheid.
  • Bryce (Viscount James Bryce ) Papers.
    The papers consist of signed manuscripts for the second and third articles of James Bryce's "Impressions of South Africa," which appeared in the Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine in 1896.
    Reddy (E. S.) Papers. The papers consist of correspondence and printed material relating to South Africa and Namibia.
  • Reddy (E. S.) Papers.
    The papers consist of correspondence and printed material relating to South Africa and Namibia and document E. S. Reddy's work with anti-apartheid organizations around the world. Also included is material on Mahatma Gandhi and Indians in South Africa.
  • Pogrund (Benjamin) Papers.
    The papers include correspondence, writings, subject files, scrapbooks, clippings, legal documents, photographs, and other materials created and compiled by Benjamin Pogrund, the South African journalist. The collection extensively documents prison conditions in South Africa, the South African Communist Party, the Rand Daily Mail, the South African Coloured National Convention, the South African press, and many other organizations and individuals who worked to subvert apartheid.
  • Botswana Collection.
    [190-]-1996. The collection consists of printed material relating to political and social conditions, and development in Botswana.
  • Cameroon Collection
    1912-2006. The collection consists of printed material relating to current political, economic, and social conditions in Cameroon. Also included are photographs.
  • Kingsley (Mary Henrietta) Papers.
    The papers consist of letters written by Mary Kingsley to English merchant John Holt and his wife. Among the topics discussed are British government policy in West Africa, treatment of Africans, the behavior of missionaries, the interests of the trading community, and public opinion in England.
  • Gambia Collection.
    1889-1998. The collection consists of a ship's logbook and printed material relating to the history of Gambia and the current political, economic, and social conditions.
  • Cameron (Kenneth Walker) Papers.
    Collection includes: official seals of the United States, Canadian provinces, and the British Empire, primarily on letters from government officials laid into five scrapbooks; several magazines and an atlas of Canada; chart of Scottish clans and coats of arms; wax seals of Jersey (Channel Islands), Guernsey (Channel Islands), and Gambia Colony.
  • Ghana Collection.
    1877-2006. The collection consists of correspondence, printed material, writings, and photographs relating to the history of the Gold Coast (now known as Ghana) and the current political, economic, and social conditions.
  • Apter (David Ernest) Papers.
    The collection consists of photographs taken by David E. Apter from 1951 to 1960 in the African countries of Ghana (formerly known as the Gold Coast), Nigeria, Rwanda, Uganda, and Benin (formerly known as Dahomey), during the buildup of nationalism and the start of independence. The photographs portray scenes of everyday life in these countries. The collection also includes two photographs of David Apter, taken by Eleanor Apter in 1953 in Achimota, Gold Coast, and by Larissa Leclair in 2002.
  • Novikoff (Boris) Papers
    The papers consist of letters from Helene Novikoff to her son Boris, while he was employed by the Gold Coast Selection Trust Limited, a gold mining company, in West Africa. The almost daily letters, written in Russian by Helene Novikoff from her home in England, concern her health, finances, and routine activities.
  • Breman (Christina M.) Papers.
    These papers represent the source materials gathered by Breman while preparing her dissertation, "The Association of Evangelicals in Africa: Its History, Organization, Members, Projects, External Relations, and Message", which was published in 1996. More than 8,000 photocopies from documents in the offices of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa in Nairobi, Kenya are supplemented by materials related to Dr. Tokunboh Adeyemo and Dr. Byang H. Kato.
  • Smith (Frank Kellogg) Travel Photographs and Memorabilia.
    The collection consists of photograph albums, loose photographs, and memorabilia compiled by Frank Kellogg Smith that document his travels, predominately in western and central Europe, southern and eastern Africa, and the southern Pacific region, primarily from 1898-1922.
  • Kenya Collection.
    1901-2003. The collection consists of reports and printed material relating to the political, economic, and social conditions in Kenya. Also included are photographs.
  • Lesotho Collection.
    1904-2005. The collection consists of reports, speeches, and printed material relating to the history of Lesotho and the current political, economic, and social conditions. Photographs are also included.
  • Malawi Collection.
    The collection consists of printed material relating to the political, economic, and social conditions in Malawi.
  • Brelsford (William Vernon) Papers.
    The papers consist of correspondence, subject files, printed material, maps, and photographs relating to Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) and Nyasaland (now Malawi). Compiled by William Vernon Brelsford.
  • Welensky (Roy)Papers.
    The papers are comprised of letters written by Roy Welensky to Flag Captain Gabriel Teixeira of Portugal, a former governor-general of Mozambique. The correspondence ranges from 1961 to 1972 and documents the condition and dissolution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland as well as the state of affairs in Southern Rhodesia after the dissolution.
  • Mauritius Collection.
    1831-1996. The collection consists of manuscripts and printed material relating to the history of Mauritius and current political, economic, and social conditions in Mauritius.
  • Mozambique Collection.
    1888-2002. The collection consists of printed material, photographs, and textiles relating to the history of Mozambique and current political, economic, and social conditions.
  • Namibia Collection.
    The collection consists primarily of printed material relating to political, economic, and social conditions in Namibia. Also included are photographs.
  • Episcopal Churchpeople for a Free Southern Africa, Records.
    The records in this collection primarily document the ECFSA's work in relation to Namibia. The ECFSA has served as a link between Anglicans in Southern Africa and people in the United States by publishing a newsletter, issuing news releases, sponsoring public meetings, preparing and publishing special reports, sponsoring speaking and study tours for Southern Africans, raising funds to support education and provide relief in Southern Africa.
  • Gunn (Harold D) Collection.
    The papers include a unique collection of reports, memoranda, maps and anthropological and historical notes generated by officials and researchers who worked for the British colonial administration in Northern Nigeria. The materials document aspects of the policy of Indirect Rule pursued by the Colonial Government dating ca. 1908-1950, including the establishment and consolidation of a hierarchy of administrative units for ruling rural Nigerians.
  • Rwanda Collection.
    1953-2000. The collection consists of printed material relating to political, economic, and social conditions in Rwanda.
  • Seychelles Collection.
    1938-1996. The collection consists of printed material relating to political conditions in Seychelles.
  • Walshe (Holwell) Papers.
    The papers consist of correspondence, and official government and military directives to and from Holwell Walshe, which document his career in the 1st and 2nd West India Regiments, particularly his years as commander of Sherbro Island, Sierra Leone. Walshe took possession of Sherbro in September 1862 and successfully defended the island and revitalized its economy. He remained as Civil Commandant until 1871, when he was transferred to Singapore as a police magistrate.
  • Swaziland Collection.
    The collection consists of printed material and photographs relating to political and social conditions in Swaziland.
  • Tanzania Collection
    1873-2005. The collection consists of printed material relating to political, economic, and social conditions in Tanzania. Photographs are also included.
  • Land of Zenj (The) Photograph Collection
    The collection, assembled by the rare book dealers Jenny Allsworth and Humphrey Winterton, brings together photographs, photograph albums, glass lantern slides, and a lantern projector, which document the Sultanate of Zanzibar and European colonial expansion in East and Central Africa from 1870 to 1914. Also documented are early Arab and Portuguese coastal settlements at Kilwa, Mafia, Pemba, Sofala, and Zanzibar.
  • Stevens (Robert B) Papers.
    The papers consist of reports, correspondence, and working papers documenting the professional life of Robert Stevens and the activities of the E.A.C.S.O., the East African Community, and the Commission on East African Cooperation.
  • Church of Uganda Office of the Archbishop Archives.
    This record group includes organizational and administrative records, correspondence, Diocesan records, and documentation of programs, activities, and institutions overseen by the office of the Archbishop of the Church of Uganda.
  • Zambia Collection.
    1929-2006. The collection consists of printed material and photographs relating to political, economic, and social conditions in Zambia.

Primary Sources for the Boer Wars

  • Baker (Francis John) Boer War Diary.
    The collection comprises a manuscript diary covering the years 1901-1902, written in 1912 from notes taken during that time period. Francis John Baker provides lengthy, detailed descriptions of his experiences in the Boer War and daily camp life. Military documents, family correspondence, and photographs are included.
  • Crocker (Herbert Edmund) Boer War Diaries.
    The papers comprise four manuscript diaries written by Herbert Edmund Crocker in 1900 and a typed transcription. The diaries contain lengthy, detailed descriptions of his military service in South Africa in 1900 and the daily rigors of camp life. The diaries are interspersed with sketches and maps drawn by Crocker.
  • Lyons (Henry M) Papers.
    The papers consist of correspondence, a diary, and memorabilia of Henry M. Lyons, a private in the British Royal Army Medical Corps, 10th Bearer Company, 12th Brigade, during the Boer War. Lyons recounts his experiences as a stretcher bearer and his impressions of camp life, the Boers, numerous skirmishes, and the weather and terrain of South Africa. Memorabilia includes his medical kit and a letter of a captured Boer.
  • Prewett (Vivian J. A.) Papers.
    The papers consist of letters of Vivian J. A. Prewett, a trooper with the 13th Company, Imperial Yeomanry. Prewett corresponded with family and friends during his tour of duty during the Boer War. The letters chronicle Prewett's sailing to South Africa, his arrival in Cape Town, the daily routine of camp life, his participation in combat, as well as his personal observations of the Boers and of England's involvement in the war.
  • Du Toit (Brian M) Collection.
    The collection consists of copies of speeches, public statements, press releases, memoranda, letters, church records, personal journals, travel documents, family photographs, kinship charts, field notes, manuscripts and related materials on the Inkatha Freedom Party and descendants of the Boers who left South Africa following the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. Du Toit has used these materials in several published works, including three books on the Afrikaner diaspora.
  • Lewis (George S.) Papers.
    The papers consist of letters written by Private George S. Lewis from South Africa to his family in England between April 9 and November 24, 1900. Lewis describes a collision involving his troopship as it approached Cape Town; his travels from Cape Town to Bloemfontein; his capture and imprisonment by Boers; hospitalization in Johannesburg; work in Pretoria; and return to Cape Town and then England. Also included are two photographs of Lewis and letters to Lewis from family and friends.
  • McCarthy (Alfred Stephen) Papers.
    The papers consist of a diary kept by McCarthy during his year of service with the 6th Imperial Bushmen cavalry unit in the Boer War, 1900-1901; legal documents, including birth and marriage certificates; limited correspondence; photographs; records kept by McCarthy during his tenure as a sergeant with the New South Wales police, 1901-1922; a collection of McCarthy's bush poetry; and newspaper clippings collected by McCarthy.
  • Emms (R) Papers.
    The papers consist of diaries, memorabilia, printed materials, and photographs of R. Emms, a noncommissioned officer in the British Army, Company E, 2nd Batallion, Norfolk Regiment, during the Boer War in South Africa. In his diaries and sketches, Emms recounts army life and battles in which he participated. The photographs are primarily of the Norfolk Regiment encampment and soldiers.
  • Kingsley (Mary Henrietta) Papers.
    The papers consist of letters written by Mary Kingsley to English merchant John Holt and his wife. Among the topics discussed are British government policy in West Africa, treatment of Africans, the behavior of missionaries, the interests of the trading community, and public opinion in England. The letters were written during the period between Kingsley's return from her West African travels and before going to South Africa during the Boer War.
  • Colenbrander (Johan William) Collection.
    The collection consists primarily of photocopies of documents and photographs, assembled by Johan Cornelis Alphons Lawrence Colenbrander, which relate to the personal life and professional activities of his father, Johan W. Colenbrander.
  • Burnham (Frederick Russell) Papers.
    The papers consist of correspondence, subject files, writings, and photographs documenting the personal and professional life of Frederick Russell Burnham, especially his years in Africa, and his exploration work in Mexico.
  • Borton Family Papers.
    The collection consists of correspondence, journals, photographs, maps, printed material and other papers, documenting four generations of the Borton family and their military and personal experiences within the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-1842), the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1843-1880), the First Anglo-Sikh War (1845-1846), also known as the Sutlej campaign, the Crimean War (1853-1856), the Second Boer War (1899-1902), the First World War (1914-1918), India, Iraq, and Mauritius.

Important Databases

  • Africa-Wide NiPAD (EBSCO)
    Africa-Wide:NIPAD, produced by NISC South Africa, combines databases from around the world to form a multidisciplinary aggregation offering unique and extensive coverage of all facets of Africa and African studies. This includes content from South African Studies, African Studies, and African HealthLine, which focuses on all aspects of health relating to Africa and other developing nations.
  • Africa Yearbook
    The Africa Yearbook covers major domestic political developments, foreign policy and socio-economic trends in sub-Sahara Africa. The Yearbook contains articles on all sub-Saharan states and on each of the four sub-regions (West, Central, Eastern, and Southern Africa), focusing on major cross-border developments and sub-regional organizations. It also contains one article on continental developments and one on European-African relations.
  • Africabib.org
    Africabib is a combination of bibliographic databases providing access to periodical and other material on Africa. The two major databases include Africana Periodical Literature, a bibliography of citations from periodicals, covering a range of topics relating to Africa and African Women's Database which includes citations pertaining to women in Africa, conference papers, and references to theses and dissertations.
  • African Collection Yale University Library
    Africana in North America, if not the world. The first acquisition of Africa-related material goes back to the earliest days of the University’s existence, and the impressive depth and breadth of holdings reflects the diversity of the University Library’s strengths as well as generations of Yale scholars’ varied research pursuits.
  • Black Short Fiction and Folklore
    Black Short Fiction and Folklore is the most comprehensive collection yet created of stories from African and the African Diaspora. When complete, it will feature 8,000 stories and folk tales published in more than 15 countries from the mid-1900s to the present. In addition to these published works, the database features previously uncollected works and unpublished manuscripts by many authors.
  • Black women writers
    Celebrates the many voices of women from Africa and the African Diaspora. Offering fiction, poetry, and essays from three continents and 20 countries; gives an unparalleled view of black women’s struggles through time. New content is uploaded on a biweekly basis, giving users immediate access to a steadily growing treasury of extraordinary writings. Currently features over 14,000 pages of poetry and prose.
  • World News Connection (Dialog)
    An extremely valuable research tool for anyone who needs to monitor non-U.S. media sources, the material in WNC is provided to the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) by the Open Source Center (OSC). Analysts from OSC domestic and overseas bureaus monitor timely and pertinent open-source materials.
  • World newspaper archive
    The World Newspaper Archive represents a collaborative effort of CRL member institutions and Readex to preserve and provide persistent access to historical newspapers from around the globe. This first module of the World Newspaper Archive focuses on news from Latin America and the Caribbean. The project will eventually encompass the news output of other major regions, including Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Eastern and Central Europe.
  • African Writers Series
    This full text database offers access to works from Heinemann's African Writers Series. This series provides seminal works from the canon of twentieth century African literature, covering such authors as Steve Biko, Ama Ata Aidoo, and Buchi Emecheta. Novels and short stories, drama and poetry, are fully searchable and indexed. Author biographies are included.
  • Catalogus Afrika Studiecentrum
    Catalogus Afrika Studiecentrum (Universiteit Leiden) - This African studies database contains titles of monographs, journal articles and chapters from edited works acquired since 1988. Most entries include in-depth abstracts.

Newspapers and Pamphlets

  • African Journal Online
    African Journals Online (AJOL) provides access to African published research. AJOL is a database of African-published journals, publishing in a range of academic disciplines. The objective of AJOL is to give greater visibility to the participating journals, and to the research they convey.
  • Ethnic NewsWatch
    Ethnic NewsWatch is a full-text collection of the newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press. The collection of articles, editorials, columns, and reviews provide a broad diversity of perspectives and viewpoints. Free text searching and complete indexing are available in English and Spanish language. A history file goes as far back as the 1960's.
  • IIBP - International Index to Black Periodicals (PQ)
    IIBP indexes articles in 150 international scholarly and popular Black studies periodicals. It covers humanities-related disciplines including art, cultural criticism, economics, education, health, history, language and literature, law, philosophy, politics, religion, and sociology. The full text of some recent articles are included.

Slavery: 17th-18th Centuries

  • The trans-Atlantic slave trade.
    Contains records of 27,233 trans-Atlantic slave ship voyages made between 1595 and 1866. Format allows users to track information by time period and geographic region, and includes interactive maps that allow viewers to chart the trans-Atlantic connections. The accompanying data contains materials about people on board, owners and captains, ships’ characteristics, and the geographic trajectory of each voyage.
  • Collected Royal African Company Documents (Orbis Subject Link).
    The Royal African Company of England was the major, legally monopolized slaving corporation set up in the mid-seventeenth century in England. Topics include the economics of slavery, the geography of slavery, social and political debates surrounding slavery, and the finance of slaves.
  • The Humphrey Morice papers from the Bank of England.
    Contains the slave journal of Humphrey Morice (1721-1730), trading accounts and personal papers, business papers, and documents relating to British trade with Africa, America and the West Indies.
  • The papers of the Company of Scotland trading to Africa and the Indies (The Darien Company), 1696-1707 (inclusive), [microform].
    The papers include records relating to trade, industry, plantations, agriculture, ranching, immigration and settlement, the anti-slavery movement, politics, religion, and military affairs of Scotland and England. Personal papers, diaries, state documents, printed material, and the records of industrial and commercial concerns are also included in the papers.
  • Slavery Miscellaneous Manuscripts Collection.
    An artificial collection of volumes, tracts, deeds, and clippings on the topic of slavery. A seven volume composition of material on slavery and abolition, and a "Census of the Slaves in Chester County, Pennsylvania" are included.
  • McGlashan (E.L) Collection of Documents Concerning Slavery in the United States
    This collection of 46 documents consists of manuscript bills of sale, receipts, estate appraisals, deeds of gift, manumission statements, promissory notes, and other papers documenting slave ownership and the slave trade in the United States between 1770 and 1863. The bulk of the material documents slavery in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky and Alabama. There are also legal documents recording slavery transactions in Maine, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Louisiana.
  • State slavery statutes, 1789-1865 (inclusive), [microform].
    The records consist of statutes passed in fifteen states that deal with slavery, free blacks, and the broader issue of race. Also included are private laws, special acts, legislative resolutions, and state constitutions with subsequent revisions.
  • Log and journal of the Bristol ship "Black Prince", 1762-1764 (inclusive), [microform].
    Log and journal of the Bristol ship "Black Prince," which was engaged in slaving voyages. This manuscript covers her seventh and eighth voyages to the Gold Coast of Africa. The material is partly in tabular form, listing occurrences, transactions, courses, and positions.
  • Letterbook, 1765-1790.
    Letterbook containing retained copies of commercial correspondence between an unidentified London shipowner and merchant and his various business associates, many of them Americans in the Carolinas, including Thomas Pearce, Robert Smyth, and James Britt. Subjects include the pricing of and credit for cargoes of wine, cork, indigo, rice, and Negro slaves from Guinea; news of family members and mutual friends; recommendations of business associates and ships’ captains; and schedules of repayment
  • Letters to Richard Oswald, 1759-1784.
    Ten letterbooks containing business correspondence to Oswald from his agents, factors, nephews and Edinburgh attorney, all written after his "retirement" to Scotland. The letters include extensive information on on Oswald’s trading ventures, particularly his trade with the American colonies and his West African slave trade (based at Bunce Island), and his Scottish land investments.
  • Journal of Freeborn Garrettson, 1752-1826 (inclusive) [microform].
    Freeborn Garrettson became a Methodist minister due to the influence of Bishop Francis Asbury. He opposed slavery and freed his own slaves when he had begun his ministry. He was instrumental, along with Asbury, in organizing the Methodist Episcopal Church.

Slavery: 19th Century

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