Contact Information
  • Librarian: Marion Frank-Wilson
  • Location: Herman B Wells Library E660
  • Phone: (812) 855-1481
Libraries & Subjects
last updated: 1/18/2013

Primary Sources

General | Bibliographies | News | Audio/Visual | Digital Collections | Statistics | Archives | Print Guides to Archives & Collections


Use these general resources to find specific primary source items relating to Africa.  Find published materials, websites, and even people who can help you in your research:

Africa South of the Sahara: Primary Sources (Stanford University)

H-Afresearch: An H-Net Network on Research in African Primary Sources

IUCAT (Indiana University Libraries' Online Catalog)

Worldcat (find library materials worldwide)

Identifying primary and secondary sources (guide prepared by the Department of Teaching & Learning, Indiana University)


Not sure what is available on your topic? Use the following bibliographies to identify primary sources to use in your research. (These entries are drawn from: Kagan, Alfred, ed. [2005]. Reference guide to Africa: a bibliography of sources, 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.)

•  Fage, J.D.  A guide to original sources for precolonial Western Africa published in European languages: for the most part in book form. Rev. ed. Madison: African Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1994.

Z3516.5 .F34 1994 [ALF & ONLINE]

•  Hess, Robert, and Dalvan Coger.  Semper Ex Africa ... a bibliography of primary sources for nineteenth-century tropical Africa as recorded by explorers, missionaries, traders, travelers, administrators, military men, adventurers, and others. Hoover Institution Bibliographical Series, 47. Stanford, CA: Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace, 1972.

Z3501 .H586 [Wells - Reference and ALF]

•  Jones, Adam.  Raw, medium, well done: a critical review of editorial and quasi-editorial work on pre-1885 European sources for sub-saharan Africa, 1960-1986. Madison: African Studies Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1987.

Z3502 .J66 1987 [ALF & ONLINE]

•  Lewicki, Tadeusz. Arabic external sources for the history of Africa to the south of the Sahara. Polska Akademia Nauk, Oddzial w Krakowie, Prace Komisji Orientalistycznej, nr. 9. Wroclaw: Zaklad narodowy im. Ossolinskich, 1969; London: Curzon Press, 1974.

DT349 .L672 [ALF]

•  Tirmizi, S.A.I. Indian sources for African history: guide to the sources of the history of Africa and of the Indian diaspora in the basin of the Indian Ocean in the National Archives of India. Delhi : International Writers' Emporium, c1988-1993.

DT352.5 .T57 1988  v.1-3 [ALF]


Newspapers provide contemporary reporting of events. nbsp;Most African newspapers are not digitized, but many are microfilmed or held in print by various institutions. Use the links below to identify and locate news for your research:

African Newspapers (Indiana University)

African Newspapers Union List (AFRINUL)

Cooperative Africana Microform Project (CAMP)

Electronic Journals and Newspapers of Africa

Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) Daily Reports, 1941-1996  [database - IU users only]

World News Connection (North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Western Africa)  [database – IU users only]


Why not enrich your research with photographs, audio recordings, videos, and other non-print materials? Indiana has several collections with primary sources that you may find useful (see also the "Digital Collections" section below):

Archives of Traditional Music (Indiana University) (search IUCAT for sound recordings)

Lilly Library (Indiana University)

DIDO (Digital Images Delivered Online) (images from the former Visual Resources Center, IU Fine Arts Library)

African Poster Index (Indiana University)

African Posters Collection (Northwestern University)


The following collections are open-access and freely available (except for Aluka). Most of the collections are not simply online texts, but contain photographs, sound recordings, videos, maps, and more:

Africa Focus: Sights and Sounds of a Continent (University of Wisconsin)

African Language Materials Archive (ALMA)

Aluka Digital Library  [database – IU users only]

American Museum Congo Expedition 1909-1915 (American Museum of Natural History)

Archives of Popular Swahili (University of Amsterdam)

Bildbestand der Deutschen Kolonialgesellschaft (Universitatsbibliothek Frankfurt am Main)

Community Video Education Trust (CVET): documentary footage of the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa

DISA: Digital Innovation South Africa (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Gallica: Voyages en Afrique (Bibliothèque Nationale du France)

Google Books (Click on “Full View Only” button to search only full-text items)

Nordic Documentation on the Liberation Struggle in Southern Africa (Nordic Africa Institute)

NYPL Africana & Black History Digital Collections (New York Public Library)


Need quantitative data in your work? Use the following to find it:


African Population Database

International Financial Statistics (choose IFS in the "Data Source" menu in upper left; an International Monetary Fund publication) [database – IU users only]

Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)  [database – IU users only]

National Statistical Offices of African countries

Open Data Catalog (World Bank)

Polling the Nations  [database – IU users only]

StatsOnline (Statistics South Africa)

UNESCO Institute for Statistics


Are you traveling to do your research? Or are you doing your work at IU? In either case, use the links below to identify which archives have what you need:

African Libraries and Archives (Africa South of the Sahara)

Africa Research Central

ArchiveGrid  [database – IU users only]

Black Film Center/Archive (Indiana University)

Primary Resources and Archival Collections: Index of Finding Guides (African Studies Library, Boston University) [Note: call numbers are not accurate for IU collections]

Archives Online at Indiana University

Microfilm and Microfiche for African Studies at IU

West African Arabic Manuscript Project (Arabic and English)

Print Guides to Archives & Collections:
(These entries are drawn from: Kagan, Alfred, ed. [2005]. Reference guide to Africa: a bibliography of sources, 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.)

•  Cook, Chris. The making of modern Africa. New York: Facts on File, 1995.

Z3508.H5 C66 1995 [Wells - Stacks]

•  French, Tom. The SCOLMA directory of libraries and special collections on Africa in the United Kingdom and in Europe. 5th ed, rev. and expanded. London: Hans Zell, 1993.

Z3501 .F75 1993 [Wells - Reference]

•  Howell, John Bruce, and Yvette Scheven. Guides, collections, and ancillary materials to African archival sources in the United States. Madison: University of Wisconsin-Madison, African Studies Program, 1996.

Z3501 .H68 1996 [Wells - Reference]

•  Pearson, J.D. A guide to manuscripts and documents in the British Isles relating to Africa. London: Mansell, 1993-1994. 2 vols.

CD1048.A3 P43 1993 [Wells - Reference]

•  Porges, Laurence. Sources d'information sur l'Afrique noire francophone et Madagascar: institutions, répertoires, bibliographies. Paris: Ministere de la cooperation, La Documentation francaise, 1988.

Z3671 .P675 1988 [Wells - Stacks and ALF]

•  Roper, Geoffrey. World survey of Islamic manuscripts. London: Al-furqan Islamic Heritage Foundation, 1992-1994. 5 vols.

Z6611.I84 W96 1992 [Wells - Reference]

•  South, Aloha. Guide to federal archives relating to Africa. Waltham, MA: Crossroads Press, 1977.

Z3509 .S726 [Wells - Reference]

•  South, Aloha. Guide to non-federal archives and manuscripts in the United States relating to Africa. London and New York: Hans Zell, 1989. 2 vols.

CD3002 .S68 1989 [Wells - Reference]

last updated: 1/18/2013