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Colonial states and African societies: French Colonial History

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

French Colonial History

Bibliothèque nationale de France. Gallica
France's National Library has full text primary sources online. Use the Advanced Search for best results. Examples of holdings  -


Hommes et destins : dictionnaire biographique d'outre-mer
Paris : Academie des sciences d'outre-mer

v. 1. no special title
v. 2. no special title (2 v.)
v. 3. Madagascar.
v. 4. no special title.
v. 5. no special title.
v. 6. Asie.
v. 7. Maghreb Machrek.
v. 8. Gouverneurs, Administrateurs, Magistrats.
v. 9. Afrique noure
v. 10. Amérique
v. 11. Afrique noire.

Library of Congress. French-speaking West Africa; a guide to official publications
compiled by Julian W. Witherell, African Section
Washington, General Reference and Bibliography Division, Library of Congress, 1967
Online publication in Hathi Trust.

In French. 400 titles of the French press published from 1631 to 1950. A lot of information on colonial Francophone Africa and slavery in French colonies.  Official news site of the Bibliothèque nationale de France. Read the directions on Searchworks to access.


Revue des colonies [microform]. Paris.
1834 - 1841
Stanford has microfilm in the Media Microtext Center.

Revue des colonies [electronic resource] : recueil mensurl de la politique, de l'administration, de la justice, de l'instruction et des moeurs coloniales. Paris.
A few issues from 1836, 1837 are online.


Papiers, 1881-1909
Noirot, Ernest

Birthdate - Death date 1851-1913.
Paris : Société francaise du Microfilm.
6 reels
Hoover Library MFILM DT534.N6
Noirot was a colonial administrator in French West Africa. Includes reports, notes, correspondence, maps, illustrations relating to his duties in Guinea and the Fouta Djallon and Senegambia regions.
Microfilm made from original materials located in the French National Archives (Cartons AP148/1-5)
Contents listed in "Papiers Ernest Noirot" by G. Debien ("Extrait du Bulletin de l'Institut francais d'Afrique noire, 1964, B, no.3-4")


Records of the U.S. State Department [microform] : The French Colonies in Sub-Saharan Africa, 1945-1963 : internal and foreign affairs
United States. Department of State
Woodbridge, Ct : Primary Source Media, Gale Cengage Learning, 2012.
21 microfilm reels ; 35 mm.
Green Library Media / Microtext Center


Stanford University. Library
Répertoire 1857-1904 [microform] : [libérations].
[Dakar] : Atelier de microfilm, Direction des archives du Sénégal, Annexe, 2002.
7 microfilm reels ; 35 mm.
"Slave emancipation registries from the colonial administration of Senegal. The first entry was recorded on August 6, 1857, and the last was May 16, 1904. In all, there were 20 record books for slave liberations. While the format changed over the years, the general system used by the colonial government was the following: name of slave, place of birth (if available), age, place of liberation within the colony of Senegal, date of liberation, and name of the colonial administrator."

Le Tour du monde : nouveau journal des voyages
Charton, Edouard,; 1807-1890, ; editor.  "et illustré par nos plus célèbres artistes."
Paris : Libraire de L. Hachette, 1860-1914. Some issues in Hathi Trust.

  • Other title: A travers le monde.  1895-1910. Paris : Hachette.
  • The 1868 Premier Semestre volume has articles by E. (Eugène) Mage, 1837-1869.  "Voyage dans le Soudan Occidental" [Senegal]

  • The print volumes Stanford has has beautiful images. Includes some maps.


Stanford University. Senegal Liberations Project
Faculty: Joel Cabrita (History); Richard Roberts (History); Rebecca Wall; and Fatoumata Seck (French and Italian)
"Between 1857 and 1903, 28,930 enslaved Africans walked away from their African masters and sought freedom and freedom papers from French colonial officials in Senegal. Who they were, where they came from, and how they made their way to freedom are central questions we are asking."