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African Studies Library: Archives & Special Collections

What can you find in our archives?


  • Personal papers 
  • Official publications, working papers, pamphlets, conference proceedings
  • Maps
  • Older fragile books that comprise the Colonial Services Club Collection
  • Slides, photographs, microfilms, film and data reels, cassettes

Some of the material has been either catalogued or listed, and can be fetched by completing a form at the issue desk or by completing a form online.  Materials stored in the archive are generally not borrowable.  With the help of volunteers the basement collection is being reorganised and listed, and we will be continuously adding to these pages.  Please see the archival collections listed in the box below, including details of what the team is currently working on to make available.  Take a look at our guest blogposts to keep up to date with progress: caslibraryblog 

Items that need to be fetched are indicated on iDiscover by the following location information: "African Studies Centre Library : Library Archive Store"   Archival material needs to be handled with care, and the desk next to the Library Office has been reserved for archival material consultation.  

For archival material elsewhere in the University, please use the catalogue Janus to browse Africa-related items (includes the Royal Commonwealth Society's collection at the main University Library)

Please get in touch with us if you have any questions regarding our collections.

Digitised archive collections at CAS

Eridadi M. K. Mulira Papers

The African Studies Library houses the collection of Eridadi Medadi Kasirye Mulira (1909–1995) papers in its basement archive.  

Eridadi M. K. Mulira was B/Uganda’s foremost Protestant constitutional thinker in the second half of the twentieth century. 

The collection includes Mulira's plays, essays and autobiographical material.

This collection has been digitised, and comprises of 4,471 images.

The finding aid indicates which items could not be digitised, but are available to be consulted at the Library.

The digital archive is housed on the institutional repository Apollo, which can be accessed here.




Dr Audrey Richards (founder of the Centre of African Studies, Cambridge): Her collection of papers concerning anthropological studies in Africa.

Thanks to our volunteer Ophélia Labardacq, detailed listings of the donated materials and a biography of the Centre for African Studies founder, Dr Audrey Richards, are now available. Access each finding aid by clicking on the following PDF icons, and to hear more about Ophélia's journey with the materials, please see her blogpost by clicking on her image below: 

For information on our other listed collections, please see the Archive collections box situated just below!

Archive collections

The following collections are currently being organised and listed by our team of volunteers.  Once these items have been listed and housed correctly, a finding aid describing the materials will be available in the first tab of this box.

A. D. Leishman (founding partner of publishers Leishman & Taussig): A substantial collection of: slides; books; and a series of large ring-files on a number of east, central & southern African countries containing ephemera collected during his career in Africa from the 1970s to the 2000s.

Professor A.F. Robertson: His collection of papers concerning regions and towns of Ghana (e.g) Goaso and Ahafo, which includes a boxed card index of Chiefs. 

John H. Smith: His collection of correspondence and press cuttings regarding the 1966 coup in Nigeria and its aftermath where he was stationed as a senior overseas British civil servant.

Richard Synge Nigeria Papers: A collection of reports, documents and press cuttings collected by and reflecting the research and reporting by Richard Synge, West Africa editor, editor of the weekly Africa Economic Digest 1980-1990, editor of Africa Analysis 1990-1994, and a freelance journalist specialising in Nigeria.



The Library holds approximately 200 maps of the African continent and of several African countries.  These date mostly from the 1980s and earlier.  The Library staff and volunteers are currently undertaking a project to list this collection and to make it discoverable via iDiscover.

The maps are available for consultation, not for loan.  Take a look at “There’s just something hypnotic about maps” (Ken Jennings, Jeopardy contestant) – David’s labour of love @AfrStudiesLib – caslibraryblog 


Microfilm & Microfiche
  • Church Missionary Society Africa Collections (Parts 3, 4, 8 & 9 on the Missions to the Yoruba): a print guide in the Library is available to consult in the Library.
  • The papers of Gakaara wa Wanjau, one of Kenya's first vernacular-language publishers. Wanjau's papers include his fictional writings, language primers, and a series of plays he wrote while held in detention as a 'Mau Mau' suspect. 
  • Institute of Commonwealth Studies: political ephemera. See the booklet held in the Library outlining the ICS collection for more details.

There is a card catalogue on the microfilm cabinet in the Library (alphabetical order by country), and some material may appear when you search iDiscover.  Please ask for help to use the microfilm reader.  Scanning of microfilm is subject to prior arrangement, please get in touch with us.

Official Publications, Working Papers, & Pamphlets

Most of the Official Publications, political ephemera, working papers and pamphlets that are held in the basement archive will appear when searching via iDiscover.  If you have particular documents that you would like to consult to support your research (demographic statistics, ministry reports etc.), please contact us at least 24 hours before you would like to view them, so that we can perform a thorough search for you.  


Anti-Apartheid Movement Archives (AAM)  The Anti-Apartheid Movement Archives Committee promotes research and discussion of the history of international solidarity campaigns with Southern Africa. Print archives are held at Oxford in the Bodleian, National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth, and Glasgow Caledonian University.  The website includes video, and documents for download.

Archives Hub The Archives Hub provides a gateway to many of the UK's richest historical archives.  Use the Archives Hub to find unique sources for your research. Search across descriptions of archives from over 1,000 years of history, held at over 300 institutions across the UK.

National Register of Archives The National Register of Archives (Discovery platform) holds more than 32 million descriptions of records held by The National Archives and more than 2,500 archives across the country. Over 9 million records are available for download.

British Library - Africa Manuscripts & Archives  The British Library is a rich resource for manuscripts and archives relating to Africa in western languages, Arabic, and African scripts and languages.

Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS) Collection, University of Cambridge A treasure-trove of information, pictorial and written, print and manuscript, on the Commonwealth and Britain's former colonial territories, comprising over 300,000 printed items, about 800 archival collections (including manuscript diaries, correspondence, pictures, cine films, scrapbooks and newspaper cuttings) and over 120,000 photographs.


Africa Research Central (in English & French)  An extensive database on African studies archives / libraries / museums and a database of repository wish lists. Provides access conditions, restrictions, important holdings, collection size, year founded, publications, references, related sites. Maintained by Prof. Kathryn Green and Dr. Susan Tschabrun at California State University, Fullerton. 

Cooperative Africana Materials Project (CAMP)  Based in the USA, CAMP promotes the preservation of publications and archives concerning Sub-Saharan Africa. CAMP also aims to make these materials in microform available to researchers, we hold a subscription, please come and ask us at the issue desk if there is material you would like to access.

International Council on Archives The ICA is dedicated to the effective management of records and the preservation, care and use of the world's archival heritage through its representation of records and archive professionals across the globe. Archives are listed by region, and the organistion includes the following regional branches: 

  • WARBICA - West African Regional Branch

  • CENARBICA - Central Africa Regional Branch

  • ESARBICA - Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Branch