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Library Details:

The National Archives

The National Archives Library

Library Type: Special
Address: The National Archives, Kew, Richmond, Surrey

United Kingdom
Chief Librarian/Director: Helen Pye-Smith
African Specialist:  Daniel Gilfoyle, Diplomatic and Colonial Records Specialist
Telephone: +44 (0)20 8876 3444
Web address:
Catalogue Address:
Description of Library: Nature and purpose of the library

As the government's national archive for England, Wales and the United Kingdom, The National Archives (TNA) holds records relating to over 1,000 years of history.

The National Archives Library contains publications chosen to assist researchers in finding records held in the archives and to provide contextual information supporting research. All library materials are for reference use only.

The library includes an Africana collection consisting of approximately 500 monographs, 250 pamphlets, 5 journals and 3 electronic resources, relating to Africa. The library catalogue is available on the website.

Other Resources

The National Archives of the United Kingdom holds primarily records of central government departments. These include departments responsible for colonial, dominion and foreign affairs. The archives include correspondence from the governors of British dependencies in Africa, and collections of sessional papers, locally enacted statutes, government gazettes statistical returns (blue books) and many other classes of records, including maps and photographs.

Please note that TNA does not hold the locally created records of colonial governments.

A thorough guide to records relating to Britain’s former colonies in Africa (and more generally) is provided by Mandy Banton’s Administering the Empire, 1801-1968 : a guide to the records of the Colonial Office in The National Archives of the UK (Institute of Historical Studies, London, 2008) and Anne Thurston’s Sources for Colonial Studies in the Public Record Office (HMSO, London, 1995-1998).

TNA’s catalogue is available on its website, along with much supporting guidance here

The original registers and indexes to correspondence, available in TNA’s reading rooms, remain an essential resource for researchers.

Disciplines covered: History
Countries covered: Anglophone
Special Collections: General texts and monographs relating to British imperialism in Africa.
Collection Size: Books:500
Collection Start: 1950
Access and opening hours: Open to the public as follows:

Tuesdays and Thursdays: 9:00 to 19:00

Wednesdays and Fridays: 9.00 to 17.00

Saturdays: 9.00 to 17.00

Closed Mondays, Sundays and public holidays. Please check the website for details of any closures.

A reader's ticket is required to view original documents. Two forms of identification, one of which must have proof of address are required.

The open reading room, which holds the library collection, can be accessed without a reader's ticket.

For full details, see the website .

Publications and databases on African collections produced by the Library: Banton, M. Administering the Empire, 1801-1968 : a guide to the records of the Colonial Office in The National Archives of the UK' (Institute of Historical Studies, London, 2008).

Thurston, A. Sources for Colonial Studies in the Public Record Office' (HMSO, London, 1995-1998).

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