New: Africa and the New Imperialism

Faded image of a black person superimposed over a manuscript excerpts and photo of a small steam boat.We are delighted to report that Oxford researchers now have access to Africa and the New Imperialism.

This Adam Matthew Digital resource documents the period of rapid colonial expansion by European powers across the African continent during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Many documents come from the Bodleian Libraries collections, esp. the Papers of Frederick Dealtry Lugard, Baron Lugard of Abinger.

As well as digitised archives, diaries, logbooks, minutes, official records, petitions, reports, telegrams, and more, the resource has rich visual resources, such as maps, photographs, artwork, and film.

[From the Adam Matthew Digital: Nature and Scope]
From the accounts of missionaries and European explorers navigating the interior of the continent in the early nineteenth century; to the rise in European desire for increased power, empire and wealth culminating in the Berlin Conference 1885-1886; to the subsequent power struggles, negotiations and conflicts that raged across the continent at the turn of the twentieth century, the documents within Africa and the New Imperialism charts Africa’s encounters with European imperialist regimes and their impact on the lives of peoples across the continent.

Some collection highlights:

  • Diaries, journals and sketch books from key figures including David Livingstone, John Kirk and James Augustus Grant, whose sketchbooks from his Nile expedition are illustrated with watercolours of landscapes and peoples he encountered.
  • The journals of British soldier Major General Charles Gordon, which includes his final journal written before the fall of Khartoum to the Mahdist forces led by Muhammad Ahmad of Sudan.
  • Correspondence from Roger Casement and the resulting Casement Report which investigated, and confirmed, the atrocities committed in the Congo Free State under King Leopold II.
  • British Foreign Office files for the Berlin Conference, the event which ignited the spark of late-nineteenth century European imperialist efforts across Africa, including papers relating to European intervention in the Congo, the involvement of Belgium and Germany, and the Malet papers which include the private correspondence of Sir Edward Baldwin Malet who was the British Ambassador to the German court, 1884-1895.
  • The papers, photographs and correspondence of Frederick Lugard, a British soldier and administrator in Africa, covering British involvement in East Africa and West Africa from the 1870s to the early twentieth century. These are along with the papers of journalist and colonial commentator, Flora Shaw, Lugard’s wife.
  • Correspondence, journals and reports from French explorer Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza that provide insight into his expeditions to the Congo Basin; the establishment of the French Congo; de Brazza’s administration of the French Congo as Commissioner General; and de Brazza’s 1904 investigation into injustice, forced labour and brutality within the French Congo.
  • London Missionary Society correspondence from Central Africa and Matabeleland, including first-hand accounts of audiences with King Lobengula of the Ndebele people and the activities of the British South Africa Company controlled by Cecil Rhodes.
  • Imperialism
  • Slavery and forced labour
  • Diplomacy
  • Religion and missionaries
  • Race and ethnicity
  • War and violence
  • Resistance to colonialism
  • Technology and infrastructure

Each document within Africa and the New Imperialism has been tagged with a region. These regions have been designated in consultation with our editorial board, they are broad and are intended to provide support in browsing and navigating the documents presented within this resource. However, due to the nature of the material, many documents cover several regions and where this is the case, the most relevant regions have been added; there may be more regions covered by events within documents.

  • Central Africa
  • East Africa
  • Horn of Africa
  • North Africa
  • Southern Africa
  • West Africa
  • Rest of the World

Source libraries and archives

  • Archives nationales d’outre-mer
  • Bibliothèque nationale de France
  • Bodleian Library, University of Oxford
  • British Film Institute
  • British Library
  • National Library of Scotland
  • Sanford Museum, Florida
  • School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  • Senate House Library, University of London
  • The National Archives, UK
  • University of Birmingham Library

A variety of research tools provide further contextual information or guidance for teaching and research. From Essays and Biographies to Guide to Regions and Places and Guide to the Archival Collections, explore the options under Research Tools or view the full list in Teaching Tools.

Also of interest:

Finding critical readings on colonial history:

Key source databases

See Databases A-Z for more and our LibGuides on African newspapers.