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African History Primary Sources: N - Z

Primary sources for research in African history.

African History Primary Sources - N - Z

National  Archives of Nigeria. Enugu and Calabar - Rescuing Eastern Nigerian history: preserving the holdings of Enugu and Calabar regional archives (EAP052)
In Engish. Project background: or

  • The Catalogue:
  • EAP052/1 Selection of Records from the Office of the Secretary, Southern Provinces, Nigeria [1930s-1940s]
  • EAP052/2 Selection of Records from the Calabar Division Office, Calabar Province, Nigeria [1949-1955]
  • Contents as of 2019 were 7 records from the Enugu and Calabar Archives from the late 1800s to 1960. Southern Province Records, Intelligence Reports on Clans, Calabar Division Office Records, Petition from woman regarding her estate, Petitons / appeals against tax assessments in Calabar. [KF]
  • The Archives

National Archives of Nigeria, Kaduna - Northern Nigeria: Precolonial documents preservation scheme - major project (EAP535)
In English, Arabic, Hausa, Ajami. British colonial documents and Arabic and Hausa manuscripts. [KF]

  • Northern Province Secretariat, provincial files, Divisional & District Office records, court records, maps, photographs 1897-1920. Topics include slavery, Islam, labor, agriculture, culture, reform of Caliphate institutions.
  • Arabic & Hausa Manuscripts. Covers "the social, economic and political history of the Sokoto Caliphate (the largest 19th century Islamic empire in West Africa)" - local chronicles,  correspondence, legal documents, religious literature late 18th century to 1903.
  • The Archives.
  • Background on the British Library Endangered Archives project: or DOI:
  • Collection EAP087/2:"Selection of Records from the Office of the Secretary of the Northern Provinces, Nigeria"
  • Background on the National Archives, Kaduna.
  • A study based on the documents: "Convict labour in early colonial Northern Nigeria: a preliminary study," by Mohammed Bashir Salau. Chapter in "From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme"  Maja Kominko (ed.) Cambridge : Open Book Publishers, 2016.    1 online resource. or

National Library of South Africa. Digital Collections
Digitized primary sources. Examples --

  • Southern African Newspapers - African Leader, Amanzimtoti Observer, Bantu World, Basutoland News, Cape Argus, Cape Indian, Cape Standard, Cape Times, Diamond Fields Mail, East London Dispatch, eGoli, etc.
  • Journals - Burlesque (weekly family & society), Diamond Fields Herald, Elethu Mirror, Ezakwa Mashu, Ilanga lase Natal, Imvu Zabantsundu, Indaba, Indian Opinion, Izwi lama Swazi, Morning Star, Naledi ya Batswana, Spark, Torch, Transvaal Times, Umteteli wa Bantu, Workers Unity, and more.
  • Posters - Political, World War II, Shipping Lines
  • Postcards - Cape Town
  • Bleek Collection - African languages, plants

National Security Archive, (George Washington University)
An independent research institute and library in Washington, D.C. which collects and publishes declassified documents acquired through the Freedom of Information Act, FOIA. Their holdings include press clippings on Africa and a Horn of Africa refugees (1979-1984) collection. Their microfiche collection, South Africa: The Making of U.S. Policy, 1962-1989 (2,500 documents on 439 microfiche, cost U.S. $3,900). The collection is held by at least 23 U.S. libraries and Oxford U.; check RLIN or the OCLC World Catalog for a list of these. The site provides information on how to use the FOIA. [KF]
Their Digital National Security Archives has full text documents, mainly one page each, in Adobe PDF format, on U.S. foreign relations. Includes memos, cables re Angola, military training by South Africa for the Contras, African reaction to the Cuban missile crisis, Zambia, Mozambique, etc." The National Security Archive is a non-profit research institute and library in Washington, D.C., which provides .... public access to declassified government documents obtained through extensive use of the US Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)."

National Security Archive (George Washington University) - The U.S. and the Genocide in Rwanda 1994, Evidence of Inaction
A National Security Archive Briefing Book, edited by William Ferroggiaro, August 20, 2001. Full text of sixteen declassified US government documents [in Adobe PDF] 'detailing how US policymakers chose to be 'bystanders' during the genocide that decimated Rwanda in 1994." [KF]

New York Times - Civil War in the Congo
Current and historical events in the Congo as reported by the NYT's correspondents. Has the Feb. 1961 NYT article announcing Lumumba's murder and other NYT articles from the 1960s to date.

Nigerian Field, 1931-2016
Articles free online. Natural history, Nigerian culture, Southern Cameroons. Older issues may be treated as primary sources. From the Archaeology Data Service.


Northern Rhodesians Worldwide
Site archived by the Internet Archive. Has stories of life in Northern Rhodesia, historical photographs and excerpts from the "British South Africa Historical Catalogue & Souvenir of Rhodesia from the Empire Exhibition, Johannesburg, 1936-1937." [KF]

Parkinson, Alan - National Service Memoirs
"The site contains my army and military experiences whilst serving in the Kings Own Royal Border Regiment as a national serviceman in the Cameroons [1960-1962] and also contains the true story of my time training from Fulwood to Barnard Castle to the Cameroons and back to Barnard Castle." Maintained by Alan Parkinson. [KF]

Princeton Ethiopian, Eritrean, and Egyptian Miracles of Mary (PEMM) Project 
1,000+ Miracles of Mary folktales/stories and 2,500+ images painted of the Virgin Mary from African countries. The stories are originally in Ethiopic or Arabic script and published between 1300 and the present.  Includes 2,500 paintings of the Virgin Mary owned by repositories worldwide, digitized Arabic manuscripts and translated (into English) stories, research and lessons and a Bibliography. The Project was directed by Prof. Wendy Laura Belcher. [KF]

Qatar Digital Library (Qatar Foundation, the Qatar National Library, and the British Library)
In English and Arabic. "archives, maps, manuscripts, sound recordings, photographs and much more,...with contextualised explanatory notes and links" Has India Office Records 1763–1951.

Topics include slavery, the slave trade, ZanzibarMombasa (also spelled mombassa), East Africa.
Articles by experts such as on the India Office Private Papers, Mombasa: Britain’s Shortest-Lived Protectorate?, Between Freedom and Slavery: The Employment of Runaway Slaves in the Indian Navy, The Arabic Manuscripts Collection in the British Library. [KF]

Quinzaine coloniale (Paris)
In French. Full text issues of the 1901-1913 indexes are online.


Roosevelt, Theodore - African and European Addresses
Addresses given during Theodore Roosevelt's Journey in 1910 from Khartoum through Europe to New York. Download in various forms (PDF, to your iPod, Palm, etc.) Roosevelt was U.S. President 1901-1909. May 31,1910 he spoke on British Rule in Africa - "I visited four different British protectorates or possessions in Africa??namely, East Africa, Uganda, the Sudan, and Egypt......." He spoke on Peace and Justice in the SudanManybooks supplies free e-books. Text originally from Project Gutenberg. [KF]

Slave Voyages
Trans-Atlantic and Intra-American slave trade databases. Timeline and chronology, maps. African Names database.  Types of African resistance, vessel names, captain's names, starting & ending ports, "place of purchase",  lesson plans for grades 6-12. Site creators include Emory University, University of California - Irvine, University of Califorrnia - Santa Cruz, Harvard University. See also the Slavery section. [KF]

South African Historical Documents - African National Congress site
The site maintained by the African National Congress has the full-text of primary documents - speeches by Albert J. Lutuli, Oliver Tambo, Mandela, G. M. Naicker, Yusuf Dadoo, Olof Palme, documents from Umkhonto we Sizwe, the OAU and the UN, documents concerning women in the struggle, the text of leaflet bomb fliers, biographies of leaders, etc. [KF]

[Speedy] Sarah Speedy: Daughter of Colonel Squire, Wife of Major Speedy ~ Recollections 1818 to 1859
Edited by Allan Lawrence Tristram Speedy. Full text account. 33 p. Sarah Speedy relates her travels in India, Mauritius, South Africa from 1818-1859, meeting with Robert Moffat, the missionary, helping Colonel Graham mark out Grahamstown and other events. Allan Speedy, the great great grandson of Sarah Speedy, lives in New Zealand. [KF]

Stanford University. Library. Colonial States and African Societies
Primary resources for Stanford researchers; many require paid licenses by your library.

Stanford University. Library. Primary Sources on Microfilm
Selected primary sources on microfilm available at Stanford Univeresity, Stanford, California. Missionary records, slave trade resources.

Sudan Memory Project
"to conserve and promote valuable cultural materials from and about Sudan through digitisation" Includes films, photographs, manuscripts, objects, documents, maps and art works. Issues of the Sudan Times 1914-1956. Issues of Youth and Sports, Radio, Television and Theatre, Al-Khartoum, Huna Omdurman. Short essays on Sudan history and culture. Support from the Sudanese Association for Archiving Knowledge, Professor Marilyn Deegan from King’s College London, the National Records Office in Sudan, and the British Council.

[Suttner] Bertha von Suttner: Memoiren, Stuttgart und Leipzig: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, 1909
In German. von Suttner was a Austrian pacifist, writer, Nobel Peace Prize winner. Her memoirs mention the defeat of the Italians at Adowa and the Italian anti-war movement. (Her memoirs translated into English - Memoirs of Bertha vaon Suttner). Her memoir is in Hathi Trust.


Syracuse University. Kenya National Archives Microfilm
Syracuse has a very large collection of archival documents on microfilm.

  • some are also held by Stanford and other universities
  • some are held by the Center for Research LIbraries and can be borrowed by Stanford users
  • some are only held in the U.S. by Syracuse
  • Syracuse loans some items, but there are titles they do not loan

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]

Uganda Journal
The University of Florida LIbrary has digitized Vols. 1-38, 1934-1976. Some years the journal was not published. Early years can be considered primary sources.

United States, Army Service Forces. Special Service Division, A Pocket guide to West Africa
Prepared by Special Service Division, Army Service Forces, United States Army. Full text. 27 pages, in Adobe PDF. (Washington, D.C. : War and Navy Departments : U.S. Government Printing Office, 1943.)
Topics include: The Value of Good Will, French West Africa, British West Africa, Portuguese Guinea, Liberia, How Africans Live, How to Make Friends, Things to Do and Not to Do. From Southern Methodist University. World War II: 1939-1945. Historic Government Publications from World War II. [KF] 

United States, Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division, 19th Century maps of Liberia
"...includes twenty examples from the American Colonization Society (ACS), organized in 1817 to resettle free black Americans in West Africa. These maps show early settlements in Liberia, indigenous political subdivisions, and some of the building lots that were assigned to settlers. This on-line presentation also includes other nineteenth-century maps of Liberia: a map prepared for a book first published in the 1820's by ACS agent Jehudi Ashmun, a map showing the areas in Liberia that were ceded to the society by indigenous chiefs, and a detailed map dated 1869 by a man thought to be the black American explorer Benjamin Anderson."  Has a History of Liberia Timeline. [KF]

University of Illinois, Chicago - Sierra Leone collection with supplements about the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1734-1948
In 1791, a British group, the Sierra Leone Company, sought to give free land in Africa to former black slaves and also to make money by trading African goods. Thanks to the American Revolution, some slaves were able to free themselves and got protection from the British. In 1792, Lt. John Clarkson, who worked for the Sierra Leone Company, took 1,100 of these freed slaves from Nova Scotia to Sierra Leone. The town, Freetown, was established. The collection contains documents and letters from British officials based in Sierra Leone, letters from [Sierra Leone] King Naimbanna, town diagrams, slave ship diagramsFinding aid:

University of Wisconsin Libraries. Africana Digitization Project
Full text of rare Africana, in English or translated into English. See the Copyright notice for use.
Titles include:


Wallace, Marion - Digital Sources in Europe for African History
Very extensive directory of online historical sources by Dr Marion Wallace, Lead Curator, African Collections at the British Library. Includes "Tips for Research and Searching" and "Digital Collections Dealing with Liberation Struggles in Southern Africa." Part of the Oxford Research Encyclopedias site.

West African Arabic Manuscript Database - Arabic Manuscript Management System, AMMS
A bi-lingual union catalog of records for over 20,000 Arabic manuscripts from West Africa. Find citations by authors, nicknames, titles, subjects. Includes manuscripts from Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Northern Nigeria and from collections in Paris and Northwestern Univ. The documents represent "the literary activity of Muslim literati in the Sahel region during the approximately 150 years prior to colonial conquest." Includes an early version of the essay, “The Historic ‘Core Curriculum,’ and the Book Market in Islamic West Africa” by Bruce Hall and Charles Stewart.  Charles C. Stewart, Professor, Department of History, University of Illinois, Champaign is General Editor. [KF]

Woodrow Wilson Center. Cuba and Southern Africa
"Cuban documents [1976-1989 January] about Havana's policy toward Southern Africa in the final fifteen years of the Cold War. Obtained by Piero Gleijeses [Professor of American Foreign Policy and Latin American Studies, Johns Hopkins University] for his book "Visions of Freedom: Havana, Washington, Pretoria, and the Struggle for Southern Africa, 1976–1991." Has many documents; Professor Gleijeses notes that documents were redacted by Cuba. The Wilson Center is based in Washington, D. C.

World Digital Library
In seven languages. Primary sources world wide. Antiquarian African maps, Arabic manuscripts from Timbuktu, early 20th century photographs, text of the speech by Nigerian independence leader Nnamdi Azikiwe (1904-96) on the day he became governor-general of Nigeria, South African San rock paintings, early travel journals. Supported by the U.S. Library of Congress, UNESCO, and National Libraries world wide.

World Digital Library - Travels into the Inland Parts of Africa: Containing a Description of the Several Nations for the Space of Six Hundred Miles up the River Gambia.
A 1730s journal of Francis Moore of the  the Royal African Company, concerns pre-colonial Gambia and the slave trade. Maintained by the U.S. Library of Congress.

[Wurno] - Malam Haliru Muhammad Wurno
The site is closed.  The Internet Archive has archived the site. "Malam Haliru Muhammad Wurno was a historian who lived in Wurno Nigeria, sometime capital of the Sokoto Caliphate and final resting place of Sultan Muhammad Bello and other rulers and Wazirs of the Caliphate." The documents are in Arabic and posted by Prof. John Edward Philips who hopes that site visitors will contribute to this experiment in web publication of a collective translation of Haliru's writings. Prof. Philips teaches at Hirosaki University in Japan. [KF]*/