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African Studies: Archives

Key resources

Archives Hub provides descriptions of archives held in over 150 UK universities and colleges.  Circa 700 Oxford African and Commonwealth Archives are listed.

National Register of Archives is an essential tool for locating manuscripts and archives in the UK.

Nelson Mandela Digital Archive houses archival documents, photographs and videos

Mundus Gateway is a web-based guide to more than 400 collections of overseas missionary materials held in the UK.

Colonialism and the African diaspora in postcards - University of Cologne project which includes 3027 digital objects.

Africa: Manuscripts and archives held at the British Library. 

National Archives of South Africa located in Pretoria.

African Archives and Libraries - list generated by Stanford University, providing key locations for African Archives.

CAMP - guide to its collections

The Olive Schreiner Letters online


Royal Commonwealth Society Library Photograph Collection, University of Cambridge, contains over 70,000 images dating from the mid-1850s to the mid-1980s.  Many of them are of Africa and document developments ina wide variety of fields including medicine, education and industry.

African archives in the Bodleian Libraries

The Weston Library has circa 2600 manuscript and archive collections relating to Africa and is particularly strong in material relating to the history of British colonial administration. In addition to the papers of Cecil Rhodes, the Anti-Slavery Society, the Fabian Colonial Bureau and the Anti-Apartheid Movement the Library has been the principal recipient of material gathered by the Oxford Colonial records project and the Oxford Development Records Project.

How to find archives in Oxford

The principal finding aid for locating African archives held in the Weston Library is through the Online catalogue for Western MSS. Hardcopy catalogues, for collections which only have collection-level descriptions online, are available in the Charles Wendell David Reading Room where archives can be ordered from the stacks for consultation.

Commonwealth and African archives card catalogue (now digitized). This is an index of all Commonwealth and African collections which were catalogued up to July 2014 and is the only finding aid for small collections. The index cards are arranged by name (A – Z) of the person or organisation which created the collection and by region of the world/country. The shelfmark can be found at the top right of each card. ‘Handlist’ indicates that a more detailed hardcopy catalogue is available, some of which can now also be found online.

See also the 20th Century International History Archives guide to access African history and politics archives in Oxford.

Colonial Office Confidential prints

The Colonial Office Confidential Print online catalogue covers over 1000 documents from 1848 to 1915 pertaining to Africa. Selected correspondence, memoranda and other documents were copied for internal use in the Colonial Office and in some cases circulation to the Cabinet and brought together to form this collection. The documents range from a single page to a substantial volume, many containing maps.

The collection is held at the Weston Library.

Francophone African literature

LITAF is a database of Francophone African literature comprising over 25,000 items.

Artkhade - Ancient African Arts

The Artkhade database offers free access to all auctions regarding ancient arts of Africa since 1927.

Subject Guide

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Sarah Rhodes
Bodleian Social Science Library,
University of Oxford, Manor Road Building,
+44(0)1865 2-85998


Melville Herskovitz Library of Africana, Northwstern University, has digitised copies of 113 maps of Africa from 16th to the 20th centuries.

Colonial postcards

University of Cologne picture database of over 3,000 postcards depicting colonialism and the African diaspora.