African History

Librarian for African History

Timothy Johnson
Librarian for Africana Studies, Anthropology and Food Studies
New York University
Bobst Library, Mezzanine
70 Washington Square So.
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 998-2436

Internet Links

Internet resources on Africa covering a wide range of subjects, with links to some online full-text sources.

Current and Historical Surveys

Historical Surveys / Dictionaries

  • Fage, J.D. & Roland Oliver, eds. The Cambridge History of Africa. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982-1986. 8 volumes.
    Bobst Ref1 DT20. C27x and Bobst DT20 .C27x
  • UNESCO General History of Africa. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981-1985. 8 volumes.
    Bobst Ref1 DT20.G45
    These two sets are highly detailed surveys of African history, from the prehistoric period through the second half of the twentieth century. The Cambridge History was written and edited by European and American specialists; the UNESCO General History was written primarily by African scholars, with a greater emphasis on archaeology and oral history. Both sets have bibliographies.
  • Decalo, Samuel. Historical Dictionary of Niger. 2nd ed. Metuchen: Scarecrow Press, 1989. (African Historical Dictionaries, No.20)
    Bobst Ref1 DT547.5. D4 1989
    One of many volumes in the African Historical Dictionaries series. Although uneven in content, this series provides biographical entries and basic information on history and recent social and political events, as well as a bibliography. Most volumes are in General and Humanities Reference, Shelf 16; older editions are in the stacks.
  • Stewart, John. African States and Rulers: an Encyclopedia of Native, Colonial and Independent States and Rulers Past and Present. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1994.
    Bobst Ref1 DT17 .S74 1989
  • Shavit, David. The United States in Africa: A Historical Dictionary. New York: Greenwood Press, 1989.
    Bobst Ref1 DT38.1.S53 1989

Current Surveys / Annuals

  • Africa Contemporary Record: Annual Survey and Documents. New York: Africana Publishing Co., 1968 - 1989.
    Bobst Ref1 DT1.A25
    For the period covered, a very useful source. Introductory essays discuss developments on the continent as a whole; the main portion of the volume reviews events on a country-by country basis. Includes documents.
  • Africa South of the Sahara. London: Europa Publications, 1971 - present. Annual.
    Bobst Ref1 DT351.A37 Latest only
    Bobst DT351 .A37 1971-present

    This is a major reference work, divided into three parts. Part 1 has background articles; Part 2 is devoted to international regional organizations both global and African, which have an interest in Africa. The information on these organizations is not easily found elsewhere - for example lists of members are given, and the main features of the organizations are described. Part 3 consists of country surveys, including a narrative of recent history, statistical survey and directory.
  • Africa Research Bulletin. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1965 - present.
    Bobst Ref1 DT1.A42 (Most recent three years)
    Bobst DT1. A42 (1965-- )

    A monthly record of events, published in two series: Political, Social and Cultural and Economic, Financial and Technical.
  • Economist Intelligence Unit. Country Reports. London: The Unit, 1986/87 - present.
    Bobst Ref6 Intl.Ref. HC.E78 Current issues only
    Bobst Ref6 Micro 152 1989/90-present
    Reports on individual countries, issued quarterly, offer a detailed report on political and economic policies and prospects.
  • Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Daily Report: Sub-Saharan Africa. 1978-present. Bobst Ref6
    This US government publication provides translations of foreign radio and TV broadcasts, news agency transmissions, newspapers, periodicals, and government statements. Approximately three months of daily reports are kept in paper copy; older issues are available on microfiche. Index available.

Bibliographies, Handbooks, and Guides to Research


  • American Historical Association. Guide to Historical Literature. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
    Bobst Ref1 Z6201 .A55 1995 2 volumes
    An annotated guide to scholarly works in history for all periods and areas of the world, compiled by specialists in the field. The section on sub-Saharan Africa provides an introductory essay and extensive list of recommended books and articles, arranged by region. Coverage is concentrated on works published since 1963.
  • Africa, Asia and South America Since 1800: a Bibliographical Guide. Compiled by A.J.H. Latham. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1995
    Bobst Ref1 Z6204. A33 1995
  • Bullwinkle, Davis A. African Women: A General Bibliography 1976-1985. New York: Greenwood, 1989.
    Bobst Ref1 Z7964.A3 B84 1989
    A comprehensive bibliography which encompasses publications dealing with all aspects of women's lives. This is the first volume of a three-volume series, and it includes those citations not identified by a region or nation in Africa. Other volumes are Women of northern, western, and central Africa: a bibliography, 1976-1985 and Women of eastern and southern Africa: a bibliography, 1976-1985.
  • Bibliographies for African Studies, 1970-1986. Compiled by Yvette Scheven. New York: Zell, 1988.
    Bobst Ref1 Z3501.A1 S34 1988
    Annotated guide to bibliographies that have appeared as books, articles, or parts of edited volumes in the social sciences and humanities relating to African Studies. Updated in African Book Publishing Record, no. 2 each year.
  • Zimbabwe. Compiled by Deborah Potts. Santa Barbara, CA: CLIO Press, 1993.
    Bobst Ref1 Z3578. P68 1993
    This is one of a number of volumes on African countries in the World Bibliographical Series. Each volume covers a single country and provides an annotated bibliography on history, language, culture, and politics. Recent volumes are in General and Humanities Reference, Shelf 54 ; older volumes are in the stacks.
  • Africa Since 1914: A Historical Bibliography. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-Clio Information Services, 1985.
    Bobst Ref1 Z3501 .A44 1985
    Contains abstracts representing a decade (1973-1982) of journal literature on modern Africa since 1914.
  • Index Africanus. Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1975.
    Bobst Ref1 Z3501.A73
    A catalog of articles in western languages dealing with Africa and published from 1885 to 1965 in periodicals, festschriften and conference proceedings.

Handbooks and Guides to Research

  • McIlwaine, John. Africa: a guide to reference material. New York: Hans Zell Publishers, 1993.
    Bobst Ref1 Z3501 .M3 1992
    Describes encyclopedias, handbooks, biographical and statiscal sources for Africa as a whole, as well as individual countries and regions, with an emphasis on government publications. Sections are arranged in chronological order, beginning with older material. Does not include bibliographies.
  • Zell, Hans. The African Studies Companion: a resource guide & directory. New York: Hans Zell, 1989.
    Bobst Ref1 DT19.8 .Z45 1989
    Identifies and describes major reference works, including bibliographies. Additional sections list leading journals of African history, library collections and publishers.

Statistics and Government Documents


  • Mitchell, B.R. International Historical Statistics: Africa, Asia & Oceania, 1750-1988. NY: Stockton Press, 1995.
    Bobst Ref6 IntlRef HA4675 .M55 1995

United States Documents

Many United States federal documents related to Africa are available in the Social Sciences/Documents Center on the sixth floor. However, since government documents are not listed in Bobcat, you will need to consult either an index to government documents or one of the volumes listed below to identify possible sources.

  • Witherell, Julian W. The United States and Africa: guide to the United States official documents and government-sponsored publications, 1785-1975. Washington: Library of Congress, 1978.
    Bobst Ref1 Z3501.W57
  • Witherell, Julian W. The United States and sub-Saharan Africa: guide to U.S. official documents and government- sponsored publications, 1976-1980. Washington: Library of Congress, 1984.
    Bobst Ref1 Z3501.W57 1984

United Nations Documents

The UN and its affiliated agencies are an additional source of research on contemporary Africa. Reports, speeches, resolutions, and other documents produced by the UN are available in the Social Sciences/Documents Center, 6th floor. UNBIS Plus provides access to many of these documents; they are not listed in Bobcat.


  • Africa Today: An Atlas of Reproducible Pages. Wellesley, MA: World Eagle, 1983.
    Bobst Ref1 G2445.W6 1983
  • Ade Ajayi, J.F. & Michael Crowder. Historical Atlas of Africa. Essex: Longman, 1985.
    Bobst Ref1 G2446 .S1 H5 1985
  • Baines, John and Jaromir Malek. Atlas of Ancient Egypt. New York: Facts on File, 1980.
    Bobst Ref1 DT56.9 .B34
  • Freeman-Grenville, G.S.P. New Atlas of African HIstory. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991.
    Bobst Ref1 G2446 .S1 F73 1991


  • Brockman, Norbert C. An African Biographical Dictionary. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 1994.
    Bobst Ref1 DT18 .B76 1994
    Biographical sketches, with references, for 549 figures. Emphasis on the postcolonial, contemporary period.
  • Lipschutz, Mark R. Dictionary of African Historical Biography. 2nd ed. Berkeley: U. of California Press, 1986.
    Bobst Ref1 DT352.6 1986
    Over 850 biographical sketches, with references for historical figures. Additional entries include lists of rulers and explanations of titles; the extensive indexes at the end of this work facilitate identifications.
  • Ofosu-Appiah, L., ed. Dictionary of African Biography. New York: Reference Publications Inc., 1977.
    Bobst Ref1 DT18.D55
    Only two of a projected twenty volumes in this dictionary were published. Volume 1 covers Ethiopia and Ghana and Volume 2 covers Sierra Leone and Zaire. An historical introduction to the country concerned precedes each section of biographical entries. Short bibliographies accompany each biographical entry.
  • Political Leaders of Contemporary Africa South of the Sahara, edited by Harvey Glickman. New York: Greenwood Press, 1992
    Bobst Ref6 Intl. Ref. DT352.8 .P63 1992

Africa Under British Rule

  • Atlas of the British Empire. Ed. by C.A. Bayly. NY: Facts on File, 1989
    Bobst Ref1 DA16. A8 1989
  • Cambridge History of the British Empire. Cambridge: The University Press, 1929-1959. 8 volumes.
    Bobst DA16 .C252 1929
    With regard to Africa, primarily a survey of European exploration and imperial policy. Volumes 2 (New Empire, 1783-1870), 3 (Empire--Commonwealth) and 8 (South Africa) deal with the African continent. Extensive bibliographies.
  • Palmegiano, E.M. British Empire in the Victorian Press, 1832-1867: A Bibliography. NY: Garland, 1987.
    Bobst Z2021. C7 P32 1987
    Consists of a checklist of articles on India, Africa and other imperial domains in various British periodicals. Most of the periodicals are in Bobst in one of two microform sets, English Literary Periodicals and Early British Periodicals.
  • Bailey, Susan F. Women and the British Empire: An Annotated Guide to Sources. NY: Garland, 1983.
    Bobst Z7964.G7 B34 1983
    Lists primary and secondary sources on British women as wives of administrators, missionaries and settlers, as well as native women.

Indexes and Abstracts

  • Proquest Research Library
    An index to about 1400 general interest magazines and academic journals, primarily in the humanities and social sciences. Searchable by author, subject, keyword. Beginning with 1989, includes many historical journals. Good source for book reviews. Scroll down to "Research Library" from initial database selection screen.
  • Africa Bibliography. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 1984 - present. Annual.
    Bobst Ref1 Z3501.B54
    This listing covers the whole continent of Africa and associated islands. The majority of items indexed are periodical articles, books, essays in edited volumes, chapters from single-author works and book reviews.
  • International African Bibliography: Current Books, Articles and Papers in African Studies. London: Mansell, 1970 - present . Quarterly.
    Bobst Ref1 Z3501.I52n
    This key bibliography of Africana is arranged by region including the African diaspora. The 4,000 entries per year include monographs, articles in books, and journal articles; many cross-references are supplied.

Major Journals in African History

  • Journal of African History
    Bobst DT1. J7 (1960--present) Microform (1960--present)
  • African Affairs; journal of the Royal African Society
    Bobst DT1 .R62 (1958--present)
  • Canadian Journal of African Studies
    Bobst DT19.9 .C3 B82 (1967--present)
  • Journal of Southern African Studies
    Bobst DT727 .J68 (1974--present)
  • International Journal of African Historical Studies
    Bobst DT1 .A226 (1974--present)
  • Research in African Literatures
    Bobst PL8010. A1R4 (1970--present)
  • Africana Journal
    Bobst Z3501 .A47 (1974--80) and Bobst Ref1 (1981--present)
  • History in Africa; a journal of method
    Bobst DT1. H57n (1974--present)
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