Skip to Main Content

Colonial states and African societies: Sierra Leone

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

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone under colonial rule, in Government reports, 1893-1961
East Ardsley, Wakefield, United Kingdom : Microform Academic Publishers

  • Online Sierra Leone departmental reports on Administration (includes District and Provincial Reports, Protectorate Assembly 1947-1955), Finance, Judicial and Police, Natural Resources, Social Services (includes education, health, labor), Transport and Public Works, Communications and Post Office Savings, Commerce (includes Mines), and Staff Lists and Miscellaneous (includes weather, monuments).
  • You can download a guide to the microfilm edition, by David C. Doward. 
  •  The Center for Research Libraries has these annual reports on microfilm. Stanford researchers please borrow through Interlibrary Loan. Annual departmental reports relating to Sierra Leone. 42 microfilm reels
  • The online database from Microform Academic Publishers has a downloadable guide to the microfilm, by David C. Doward.

Sierra Leone royal gazette.
Imprint: Freetown.
Hoover Library has: 1914-23; [66, 1935]; [69-70, 1938-39] 
Hoover Call Number G.D. SIERRA LEONE
See resources in Searchworks.


Sierra Leone Public Archives: Records of Colonial Governors, Police and Court Officials in Freetown and Neighbouring Villages‎ (1818-1901). EAP782/1
 Records from the formation of the British Crown colony of Sierra Leone to the formation of the Sierra Leone Protectorate.
" census records, police records, court records, military records, school records and demographic records of births and deaths. The material is vital to an understanding of the social and cultural structure of the world’s first post-slavery society, and the experiences of men, women and children forcibly relocated from diverse areas across West Africa" Project c. 2015. and


Nineteenth century documents of the Sierra Leone Public Archives (EAP443)
Liberated African Department [1808-1894] EAP443/1

"information on the identities, origins and experiences of enslaved Africans forcibly relocated to the British Crown Colony in the nineteenth century. Other volumes relate to the inward migration of people from the colony’s hinterland, including registers of slaves who had escaped from the interior to Freetown. The volumes include series of registers of births and deaths, which are in a particularly fragile and endangered condition." Project c. 2011. or

Before the war, after the war: preserving history in Sierra Leone (EAP284)
The Sierra Leone Archives hold documents which can barely be equalled in importance for telling the Atlantic slavery story. Foremost are the Liberated African Letter Books, which record the slave ships captured by the navy patrol, list all Africans disembarked at Freetown and indicate what became of them. There are also treaties between local chiefs and the new settlement from 1788 to the 20th century and the 1790s journal of John Clarkson, brother of abolitionist Thomas Clarkson." Project c. 2009.


Tracking the past - the preservation of the railway archives of Sierra Leone (EAP626)
The Sierra Leone Government Railway was built in 1893 and changed the nature of society, enabling the transport of passengers and goods between the interior and the Freetown Colony and port. At independence in 1961 the railway was well equipped and was a significant employer until its closure in 1975.  "The majority of the material dates from the 1960s and 1970s, right at the end of the railway’s life." or


David P. Gamble collection, 1954-1976
Abstract: Serial issues, bulletins, posters, other printed matter, and radio broadcast transcripts, relating to political and economic conditions and education in Sierra Leone.
Hoover Institution Archives
1 manuscript box (0.4 linear feet)
Finding aid -