Skip to main content

African Studies Collections Guide: Home

Guide to African Studies Collections

Composed by Phyllis B. Bischof & Reguna Kammer (2005), revised by Jason M. Schultz (2014)


Africana at the University of California, Berkeley is present in more than twenty campus libraries. This guide provides information concerning the most important of these collections, estimated to number nearly 200,000 volumes. The Library embraces the Main Library, which emphasizes the humanities and social sciences, the Moffitt Undergraduate Library, and 20 subject specialty and affiliated libraries devoted to the pure and applied sciences, professional fields, and subject fields such as music. Library collections on the Berkeley campus encompass books, periodicals, pamphlets, documents, manuscripts, maps, audio-visual materials, newspapers, microfilms, and other materials. Departmental collections and a number of libraries administered by institutes and foundations, some located on campus, others nearby, complete the University Library system. Although most materials in departmental and institute libraries are not listed in The Library's catalogs, this guide notes particular strengths of these libraries and also Africana collections in the Law Library, UC Data Archive and other libraries nearby the Berkeley campus.

The Library participates in programs offered by the Library of Congress for aquisition of library materials from Eastern and Southern Africa. Received under this program are periodicals, newspapers, government documents, and books gathered by the Nairobi Field Office according to a profile and shipped to Berkeley and other participating libraries.



Doe Reference Collection
North Reading Room & Reference Hall 2nd Floor / 510-642-6657

This collection focuses on the humanities, official publications, and selected areas of the social sciences, and it is an ideal place in which to begin exploration of the Africanist resources on the Berkeley campus. These 25,000 non-circulating volumes include dictionaries, directories, encyclopedias, bibliographies, almanacs, handbooks, indexes, biographies, statistics, and other items which provide either brief factual information or references to more detailed sources of information.


Main (Gardner) Stacks Collection

While specialized collections are found in subject libraries throughout the system, the Main Stack collection concentrates on African history, politics, social sciences, literature, and language. The collection embraces works in the major European languages as well as in Afrikaans, Arabic, Swahili, and Yoruba. Through exchange agreements with many Soviet academic institutions, The Library has acquired most of the books and serials on the subject of Africa published in the Soviet Union since World War II. The greatest strength of Berkeley's collection is in its serials and documents. Through purchase, gifts and a large number of exchanges, there are available complete or nearly complete runs of the publications of such organizations as the Institut Fondamental d'Afrique Noire (IFAN, Dakar), the Rhodes-Livingstone Institute, the International African Institute, the Academie Royale des Sciences d'Outre-Mer (Brussels), the Hakluyt Society, Afrika Verein (Hamburg), the Societé des Africanistes (Paris), and the South African Institute of Race Relations. The Library subscribes to most of the standard Africana periodicals as well as to many unusual ones from India, Eastern Europe and Africa.
Conference proceedings are also well represented. The former Library School Library has merged with the Main Stack Collection. This collection includes materials on international and comparative librarianship, including information services, publishing, the book trade, and libraries in Africa.
Government materials contain an extensive collection of official publications of the United States, foreign governments and international governmental organizations. Collection strengths include national development plans, censuses (population, housing, agricultural, manufacturing, etc.), central bank annual reports, and statistical compendia on all topics. The Library acquires nearly all publications from the International Labor Organization, International Monetary Fund, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, and the World Bank. The library has depository status with the United Nations, Contracting Parties to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the European Union. The library also receives material from the United Nations' Economic Commission for Africa, the Organization of African Unity, the Arab League, and various regional organizations, such as the African Development Bank, Economic Community of West African States, Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference, and West African Economic Commission. Except for reference materials, all government publications are now integrated with the Main Stack collection and are shelved there.


Statistical yearbooks from almost every African country are present in the Government Information Collection. The latest year for each country is held in Government Reference, while earlier years are shelved in the Main Stack. The International Statistics Index, mostly on microfiche, provides statistical information on virtually any country in the world, and is part of the Government Reference Collection. Also available is an extensive and very useful collection of electronic indexes, as well as many CD-ROMs from national and international organizations, which cover many topics on contemporary Africa. Although material is collected from all countries, particular collection strengths in Africa include Botswana, Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Zambia. For a bibliography of microform sets, see Africana Microform Collections at the University of California, Berkeley


40 Doe Library / 510-642-2975

Current holdings include newspapers from Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia. In addition a number of older African titles and short runs of titles are also available. See and other news indexes for indexing and much full text of African news. Although the Collection has relatively few current subscriptions and back files, one may borrow many retrospective items through inter-library loan and through the Cooperative Africana Microfilm Project (CAMP). For indexing on Africa in periodical literature, see Article Databases by Subject, African Studies.


The Bancroft Library
East entrance / 510-642-6481

As the primary rare books and special collections repository of The Library, The Bancroft houses such materials as first editions of early voyages to Africa and a unique collection of early publications in the Yoruba language, the William and Berta Bascom Yoruba Collection. Some manuscripts, especially in the History of Science and Technology Collection, include accounts of expeditions to, and descriptions of, Africa. Particularly important are the papers of Anthropologist William R. Bascom (1912-1981), who worked among the Yoruba in Nigeria. These papers include approximately 179,000 manuscript pages of field notes, correspondence, writings, lecture notes, and other materials related to his professional career. Also present are papers of anthropologists Elizabeth Colson, William A. Shack, and J. Desmond Clark.


Other important papers in this collection include: Annie Montague Alexander, African Safari (1904); Samuel A. Barrett, Cudahy-Massee Expedition (1928); David Prescott Barrows, North and West Africa (1923-24); Bay Area Committee to Save Biafran Children, (1968-70); Burton Benedict, Mauritius (1944-1970s), East African Coast (1945); James Leishman Buchanan, South Africa (1902-10); Charles Butters, South Africa; Cecil B. Griffin, Egypt (1914-18); Kathleen Hau, Oberi Okaime language, Nigeria (1953-1961); Phoebe Apperson Hearst, correspondence relating to Egypt (1897-1917); Franz J. Lee, speech on Apartheid (1966); James B. de Lopez, voyages along African coast (1867-1870); Walter Clay Lowdermilk, former French and British colonies (1969); Karl Friedrich Meyer, South Africa (1906) and Tanzania; Louis Christian Mullgardt, Egypt (1922-23); William Neufeld, Liberia (1961-1965); Nigerian Manuscripts, from 3rd to 8th centuries A.D.; Frank Norris, Uitlander insurrection, South Africa; George F. Noyes, Egypt (1854); Papeles Varios, Spanish manuscripts, includes expedition against Oran (1744); Alphonse Louis Pinart, French-African (Ogooue) vocabulary (ca. 1870s); Rebecca Hourwich Reyher, discussion on African women (1973); William Sharp, travels in Africa (1893); Paul Schuster Taylor, land reform in Africa; Tebtunis Papyri, North Africa (3rd century B.C. to 3rd century A.D.); Stewart Edward White, travels in Africa; Ernest Abram Wiltsee, South Africa (1940s). Other collections include the papers of Mark Twain (including accounts of his visits to Africa, and a manuscript of King Leopold's Soliloquy: A Defense of His Congo Rule).


Moffitt Library

The Moffitt Library houses the newly received print titles in the 3rd floor information commons. This includes most new titles purchased from African countries and about African Studies covering many humanities, social science, and some science topics. Print collections that used to be housed in Moffitt where moved to the Main Stacks or NRLF in 2014.


Media Resources Center
150 Moffitt Library / 510-642-8197

Africana holdings include hundreds of audio cassettes and videotapes, continent-wide. Items in the Center are accessible through MELVYL and Pathfinder, Berkeley's web catalog, by selecting the format designator Films/Videos/Slides. See African Studies Videography and African Cinema Vidography.


Anthropology Library
230 Kroeber Hall / 510-642-2400

Africa is well represented in the Anthropology Library: almost every classification, including prehistoric archaeology, physical anthropology, social and cultural anthropology, anthropological linguistics, human evolution, and the social behavior of primates, contains material on Africa. Traditional African art exhibition catalogs are selectively collected. The library is especially strong on ethnographies of African cultures South of the Sahara.


Bioscience and Natural Resources Library
2101 Valley Sciences Building / 510-642-2531

Subject emphases are agriculture, medicine, flora and fauna of the world, zoology, botany, entomology, forestry, conservation-resource studies, nutritional sciences, nutritional anthropology, food policy, and redevelopment projects. Among agricultural topics covered relative to African studies specifically are women in traditional agri-economic roles, the use of pesticides, and agricultural economics. Food and natural resources topics include pastoral and nomadic life, famine, drought, disease, and land use and utilization. Also collected are works on insects and arachnids of Africa, pest control problems, and entomology in human and animal health.


The library receives almost all the materials published by the United Nations and its Food and Agricultural Organization, as well as materials on exchange from Ministries of Agriculture throughout the world. It is a depository for U.S.D.A. (United States Department of Agriculture) publications, many of which cover foreign agriculture. Particularly well represented are Nigeria and South Africa. The Holl Collection, a collection of cookbooks from around the world (TX classification), covers cookery from many African countries, as well as the cooking of specific types of food, for example cassava. Also available are publications from international governmental organizations doing field work in Africa, such as the Collaborative Research Support Program, and the Consultative Group for Agricultural Research, plus many other international agricultural organizations including those concerned with development. The forestry collection includes materials on dendrology, desertification, forest economics and agroforestry.


Thomas J. Long Business Library
Haas School of Business / 510-642-0370

In 2014, the print collection of the Business Library was moved to the Main Stacks or NRLF, while the Business Library focuses on online collections, reference and instructional services. The collection embraces materials on finance, banking, business (especially small business) for Africa, as well as international and foreign periodicals on development, finance, and business. Also available are Country Reports (quarterly) and Country Profiles (annually) put out by the Economist Intelligence Unit (Great Britain), which cover almost every African country.


Earth Sciences Library and Map Collection
50 McCone Hall / 510-642-2997

The collection includes monographs, serials and reports in geology, geophysics, physical geography, climatology and paleontology. In addition to current material, almost every African country is covered by periodicals and geological surveys done by the former colonial powers during their periods of colonial occupation. The Map Collection offers general and topographic maps, satellite images, nautical and aeronautical charts, thematic maps, and city plans.


Overall there are for the continent approximately 10,000 maps and 100 atlases, as well as at least one place name dictionary for every African country. Particularly well represented countries are Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Togo, Benin and Gambia. National and regional atlases include subjects such as agriculture, vegetation, population, history, etc. Also included are bibliographies of African maps and atlases and histories of cartography.


Education/Psychology Library
2600 Tolman Hall / 510-642-4208

The collection includes periodicals on psychology and on international and comparative education, including some African education titles, most frequently from Zambia, Nigeria, South Africa, and West Africa. The Educational Resources Information Center (ERIC) is an index which includes abstracts of journal articles and unpublished research (conference proceedings, technical reports, etc.) on Africa. The library has on microfiche the full text of ERIC's research reports. Some children's literature books published in Africa, chiefly folkloric, can also be found. **By 2015 the Education-Psychology collection will move to Haviland Hall, combine with the Social Welfare collection to create the new Social Research Library.**


Environmental Design Library
210 Wurster Hall / 510-642-4818

The Environmental Design Library focuses on architecture, landscape architecture, and city planning. Included are materials on vernacular architecture (i.e. that which is indigenous to an area), third world environmental design, appropriate technology (which includes ecological design) and historical gardening and landscaping. The collection provides some materials specific to Africa, including a few journals, as well as general international materials, particularly journals and some United Nations publications. The Ekistic Index, an excellent international environmental design index, is also available.


Jean Grey Hargrove Music Library
Hargrove Music Library/ 510-642-2623

The Music Library contains an extensive collection of monographs, serials, scores, and recordings, including the field of ethnomusicology. Much information on Africa will be found in the serial collection. Music subject headings have changed throughout the years; when looking for current materials, use the subject heading "Music-Africa." For older materials search under such terms as clan/ethnic group name.


Public Health Library
1 University Hall/ 510-642-2511

Some documents are received by the Public Health Library from respective Departments of Health of many African countries. These documents provide mortality statistics, health statistics, family planning and birth control information. The library has depository status with the World Health Organization (WHO) and also receives some WHO Regional Office for Africa Occasional Papers, and WHO Afro-Technical papers. The Public Health maintains an AIDS in Africa clippings file. Subject area strengths of the library are: health care delivery, population statistics, health education, maternal/child health, occupational health, and applied public health.


Social Research/Social Welfare Library
216 Haviland Hall / 510-642-4432

The Social Welfare Library includes a small collection on international social work, with materials on Africa. Some general international materials contain case studies from Africa. The collection also includes journals, international conference proceedings, and publications of the International Association of Schools of Social Work. **By 2015 the collections of the Education-Psychology Library will move to Haviland to create the new Social Research Library.**

Institute of Transportation Studies Library
412 McLaughlin Hall / 510-642-3604

The library collects materials on all modes of transportation, e.g., railroads, aviation, shipping, roads, traffic engineering, bus lines, paratransit, and the like. Among modest Africana holdings are important transportation research reports from South Africa.


Law Library
240 Boalt Hall / 510-642-4044

The Law Library contains one of the most substantial African law collections on the West Coast. Primary source materials on Africa are in the KG classification, which is alphabetical by area, then by country. Within each country the collection is broken down into legislation, court reports, journals, treatises and monographs, with concentration on Francophone Africa and South Africa.


It is suggested that researchers use indexes such as the Index to Foreign Legal Periodicals, as well as materials on comparative law. The Library contains a small collection on Islamic law, with some materials in Arabic, but most are in English, French and German. There are some materials on customary and traditional law. Researchers are advised to check the card catalog for older materials from the colonial period.


Phoebe Apperson Hearst Museum of Anthropology
Kroeber Hall / 510-642-3681

The photographic archives, (photographs, negatives and slides of items in the collection), include pictures of African art objects, artifacts and village life. The artifact collection itself has over 20,000 objects relating to African archaeology and ethnology; only a few of these objects are on display at any given time. The museum concentrates on collecting documented items only, and items which were utilitarian in value to the original users, e.g. hunting, household and clothing items. Emphasized is West Africa, especially Nigeria and Ghana. Services available to users include a free artifact identification service. The public is encouraged to use the resources of the staff of the museum, for consultation or identification.


UC DATA (UC DATA Archive and Technical Assistance)
2538 Channing Way / 510-642-6571

UC DATA, the chief archive of computerized social science information for the University of California, should not be overlooked as a resource for Africana. The library contains primary source data sets on such topics as public opinion, ethnic populations, income distribution, health and aging, and international relations. Among its holdings are data sets on the African continent as well as on some individual African countries. The library is a member of the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the largest repository of computer-based research data for the social sciences in the world, which includes information international in scope. UC DATA staff can help researchers find data sets by subject whether they are held in-house or by ICPSR. Berkeley researchers may borrow the latter.



Graduate Theological Union Library
2400 Ridge Road / 510-649-2500

The GTU collection focuses chiefly on the Christian religion, with some Islamic materials, but with relatively little emphasis on traditional religions. Works are spread throughout the collection by denomination, with access through an online catalog. Periodicals are alphabetical by title and include a few Christian periodicals from Africa. The library has several classification systems, so materials are in such classes as BV 3500-3630 (missions in Africa), MX-MZ (missions and Christianity in Africa), and OG 21-29 (indigenous religions in Africa). Records and studies of missionary work in Africa are well represented.


A microform collection of the archives of several Christian denominations, as early as 1775, deals with missionary work across the world. Microforms which include missionary work in Africa are those of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions papers, Church Missionary Society proceedings for Africa and the East, 1801-1920, Council for World Mission archives of 1775-1940, the IMC/CBMS (International Missionary Council/Conference of British Missionary Societies) archives for Africa and India 1910-1945, Society for the Propagation of the Gospel African archives, the Wesleyan Methodist Missionary Society (London) archives, and the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. Board of Foreign Missions. The microfilm of the Baptist Missionary Society Archives, 1792-1914, is at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary Library in Mill Valley. Also present are a number of audio cassettes and tape reels which focus chiefly on African oral theology.

Stanford University
Stanford, California 94305 / 650-725-3505

Berkeley cooperates very closely with Stanford University in Africana collection development efforts. Each library collects more intensively in those areas which support the Africanist curriculum of its own campus. The result is that Berkeley acquires materials in such subjects as architecture, forestry, music and librarianship, which are not taught at Stanford, and Stanford collects more intensively in other areas, especially in ephemeral and archival materials. Stanford and Berkeley coordinate with UCLA in a cooperative effort to provide coverage for as many African serials as possible on at least one of the three campuses. Stanford's Africana curator, Karen Fung, maintains African Studies: Africa South of the Sahara, the premier gateway to electronic resources for African Studies.

Subject Guide

Susan Edwards's picture
Susan Edwards
Social Research Library
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720

Subjects:Social Welfare
Copyright © 2014-2019 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved. Except where otherwise noted, this work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License.