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University of Texas University of Texas Libraries

African Studies

African Colonial Documents

Digital Primary Source Collections

Many of these sources are colonial documents related to West Africa, as curated for a 2022 course guide. Stay tuned as we expand the regional scope of colonial documents and identify access points for post colonial African government documents. 



Sierra Leone

Central Africa 





Print Collections of Colonial Documents

There are some valuable print primary sources related to colonial Africa in the library. These types of sources include correspondence, government administration records, statistical reports, colonizer travel diaries and missionary organization reports. UT Libraries has some of these collections scattered throughout the PCL stacks and in our off-campus storage facility. Here are some recommended ways and places of finding these valuable but sometimes hard to identify texts! 

Browsing Stacks In Person

There are two sections in the PCL that have a concentrated collection of print books with colonial sources. Visit these sections and call number ranges to browse the collections. These sections contain a mix of primary and secondary sources, so you might want to flip through the book to determine if it is a collection of primary sources or secondary source/scholarship about the colonial era. 

Call Number: 966.5-966.9 / PCL Floor 5, Section 5E

  • These are primarily older titles about West Africa cataloged using the Dewey Decimal System, the original call number system UT Libraries used before the Library of Congress. This is why many of these titles in this section are from the 19th century or early 20th century. 

Call Number: DT 470-671 / PCL Floor 3, Section 3R

  • This call number section specifically covers primary and secondary sources related to the history of West Africa. This is a much larger section to browse, and somewhat more difficult to easily distinguish between primary and secondary sources. However, there is a greater depth of resources and clearer organization by country.

Also, view the library catalog records for print collections of primary sources in this series:

Library Catalog - FAQ

How long can I check out a book?

  • As a UT student, you can check a book out for the entire semester.

How do I check out a book I found in the stacks?

  • Bring the book and your UT ID card to the front desk of the library. A staff member will help you get checked out. Forgot your ID? No worries! You can use your virtual ID by logging in with your EID at the front desk. 

Pick it Up button 

  • Recalls an item that is checked out by someone else (don't feel bad about requesting the things you need!)
  • Recalls an item from storage (we have more books than we can store onsite -- don't limit yourself to what you see in the stacks)
  • Allows you to pick up a book at the PCL (even if it is from another library)

Renew Online

  • Use the My Account tab at the top right of the library home page or catalog to renew materials

Don't see what you need?

  • Use interlibrary loan to request a copy of the print book from another library for free. 

Oxford Bibliographies

See the volume on African Studies, or search the whole collection via the search box at the top of the page by keyword/country. 

There are entries on countries that have sections listing primary sources/colonial archival sources. For example, see this entry on Benin (Dahomey) and scroll down to see "Primary Sources" section. Search these sources directly in our library catalog

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