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Colonial states and African societies: British Colonial History - General

Resources for the study of African colonial history including Belgian, British, and French colonial history.

British Colonial History - General


Administering the Empire, 1801-1968:
A Guide to the Records of the Colonial Office in the National Archives of the UK 
by Mandy Banton
Published by University of London Press, 2020 

Guide to British official records by country.


Africa through western eyes [microform] : manuscript records of traders, travellers, soldiers, missionaries and diplomats in Africa
Parts 1 and 2. 
Marlborough, Wiltshire : Adam Matthew Publications, 1999
Green Library Media Microtext Center
Printed guide. See detailed contents on the Adam Matthew site.
Late 19th to early 20th century diaries, journals, photographs, letters, papers, documents  Six letters of David Livingstone.
Records are from the Royal Commonwealth Society Library at Cambridge University Library.


Colonial Africa in official statistics, 1821-1953 : African blue books, 1821-1953
Wakefield, U.K. : Microform Academic Publishers.
1 online resource
Series: Government publications relating to African countries prior to independence.
Annual Blue Books submitted by British colonial administrators in Africa to the British Colonial Office.


Colonial discourses. Series one, Women, travel, & empire, 1660-1914 [microform].
Wiltshire, Eng. : Adam Matthew Publications
Green Librry has the Microfilm and Printed Guide
Online Guide from Adam Matthew
Some content is online in Nineteenth Century Collections
Includes Sierra Leone 18th-19th c.; East Africa 1892; Mary Kingsley in West Africa; Florence Dixie (1855-1905) with the Zulus;  Agnes Herbert hunting in Somaliland. Accounts by women traveling to Sierra Leone include accounts of the slave trade.


Colonial Discourses. Series Two, Imperial Adventurers and Explorers.
Part 1: Papers of Sir Richard Burton (1821-1890). Part 1.  Description (on Adam Matthew site).
"one of the main figures in the western discovery of the Nile, but quarrelled with his companion John Hanning Speke who died mysteriously on the eve of a public meeting with Burton;" reports on West African and South African mines; letters describing his mining interests on the Gold Coast, papers of his wife Isabel Burton; papers dealing with publications by both.
Part 2: Papers of James Augustus Grant (1827-92) and John Hanning Speke (1827-64). Part 2 description.
Green Library has the microfilm and printed guides.
In 1860 Grant was seconded to join the Royal Geographical Society's expedition under John Hanning Speke to discover the source of the Nile.
"Grant and Speke became the first Europeans to enter Uganda and spent much time with King Mutesa"  Includes letters with his oldest son, James Augustus who worked on the Kimberley Bechuanaland Railway, accompanied Joseph Thomson on his last expedition, and became involved in Cecil Rhodes’s plans for Central Africa.
Includes letters of Sir Samuel White Baker, 1890;Paul Belloni du Chaillu, 1881, 1887  Sir Francis Galton, 1872 (f 12);  Charles George Gordon, 1877 (f 18); Sir John Kirk, 1865 n d (f 19); Johann Ludwig Krapf, 1870 (f 33); Sir Roderick Impey Murchison, 1863-70; H. M.Stanley.


Colonial Office. Pamphlets about Africa [1870-1960
24 microfilm reels
Hoover Library MFILM DT6.G785

For inventory see -
Great Britain Colonial Office pamphlets about Africa : microfilm 698, Duquesne University Library : contents listing
by Donald Vrabel.
Pittsburgh, PA : Duquesne University Library, 1974.
180 leaves 
Hoover Library Reference DT6.G785 1974 
(Mainly West Africa, but other countries also.)


Commonwealth political ephemera from the institute of Commenwealth Studies, University of London [microform] : Phase I, Africa : Part 1, South Africa
West Yorkshire, Eng. : Altair Publishing, c1990.
189 microfiches 
Hoover Library has the microfiche and a Guide.

Part 1.South Africa has publications of South African anti-apartheid organizations, politial parties, trade unions.


Commonwealth political ephemera from the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London [microfiche] : Phase I, Africa: Part 2, Central Africa
West Yorkshire, Eng. : Altair Publishing, 1991.
111 microfiches in 3 v. 
Hoover Library has the microfiche and a Guide.

Part 2 Publications of political parties, trade unions, pressure groups from Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rhodesia and Nyasaland, South West Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


Confidential print. Africa, 1834-1966 [electronic resource]
Imprint: Marlborough, UK : Adam Matthew Digital.
Documents (c 1834 - 1966) from the British Colonial and Foreign Offices, the British National Archives. Includes 300 maps. Adam Matthew Archives Direct has a detailed description of contents.
Subjects: |
Africa > Relations > Great Britain > Sources.
Great Britain > Relations > Africa > Sources.
Great Britain > Colonies > Africa > Sources.

Hoover Library has microfilm of almost the same content as above.
Africa : confidential prints [microform]: a collection of documents from the British Colonial Office and the British Foreign Office.
161 microfilm reels : negative ; 35 mm. + Keyword Index
Hoover Library
Contains reports, correspondence, memos, some private, some public.
Some were edited and published as Command Papers.

There is an online inventory of the above microfilm collection.
Africa : confidential prints

There is a 6 volume print inventory in Hoover Library to the microfilm.
Africa : confidential prints : an inventory. (6 v.)
Hoover Library DT32 .A258 index


Confidential Print: Middle East 1839-1969
Covers Somaliland, Sudan, Egypt.


Government Gazettes

See the Government Gazettes section of the libguide, "Colonial States and African Societies"


U.K. parliamentary papers
[Cambridge, U.K.] : Chadwyck-Healey
Has the full text of   -

Command papers, 1802-1910
Hansard, 1803-2005
Debates, 1774-1805
Histories and proceedings, 1660-1743.
House of Commons Papers, 1715-2010
Bills and acts, 1695-2015
Public petitions, 1833-1918
House of Lords Papers , 1714-1910
Journals, 1688-1834
Includes House of Commons sessional papers from 1715 to the present, with supplementary material back to 1688. I     

Has some African annual Colonial Reports.

Guide to the database


Nineteenth Century collections online 
See Europe and Africa: Commerce, Christianity, Civilization
Online documents licensed by Stanford. Pub. by [Farmington Hills, Mich.] : Gale Cengage Learning.

African Mail

African World

Annales de l'Extreme Orient et de l'Afrique

Bulletins du Comite de l'Afrique francaise

Colonial Africa Newspapers from the British Library

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Bathurst, Gambia, British Africa, 1857-1889

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Boma, Congo, 1888-1895

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Cape Town, Cape Colony, 1800-1906

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Gaboon, 1856-1888

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Goree Dakar, French Africa, 1883-1906

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Grand Bassa, Liberia, 1868-1882

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Lourenco Marques, Mozambique, Portuguese Africa, 1854-1906

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Pretoria, The Transvaal, 1898-1906

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Santiago, Cape Verde Islands, 1818-1898

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Sierra Leone, British Africa, 1858-1906

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in St. Helena, British West Africa, 1831-1906

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in St. Paul de Loanda, Portuguese Africa, 1854-1893

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Tamatave, Madagascar, 1853-1906

Despatches from U.S. Consuls in Zanzibar, British Africa, 1836-1906

Deutsche Kolonialzeitung

Exploration and Colonization of Africa

German Colonialism in Africa: Selections from the Kolonialbibliothek (Colonial Library) Collection

International Population Census, Africa

Joseph Chamberlain Papers Relating to Africa

Methodist Episcopal Church Missionary Correspondence, 1846-1912: Africa

Personal Narratives and Reminiscences of the Exploration of Africa

Publications of the Cape Colony

Publications of the Natal Colony

Report of the Boundary Survey between British Bechuanaland and German Southwest Africa of 1898-1903

Selected Africa Collections from the Bodleian Library

Selected Cabinet Papers on Africa

Selected Colonial Office Files on Africa

Selected Dominions Office Files on Africa

Selected Foreign Office Files on Africa

Selected India Office Records on Colonial Africa

Selected Maps and Plans Files on Africa

Selected Narratives and Reminiscences on Colonial Africa

Selected War Office Files on Africa

Yale Divinity School Periodicals on Africa

  • The Gambia-Pongas News
  • Heart of Africa Mission
  • The Livingstonia News
  • Madagascar Mission Magazine
  • The New Africa
  • On Trek South Africa General Mission
  • The South African Church Weekly Newspaper
  • The South African Pioneer
  • Transvaal & Southern-Rhodesia