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African History: Modern era

This guide provides links to a wealth of resources useful to the study of modern African history in modern era . If you have any suggestions or questions, please contact me with email provided in my profile

What Are Primary Sources?

Primary sources are materials that provide direct evidence or firsthand testimony concerning the period or subject under investigation. The definition of a primary source may vary depending upon the discipline or context. Examples include:

  • Diaries, letters, speeches, interviews, manuscripts
  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • Records of organizations and government agencies
  • Journal and newspaper articles written at the time
  • Photographs, audio recordings, video recordings
  • Public opinion polls conducted at the time
  • Research reports or articles reflecting the results of scientific experiments or studies
  • Works of art, architecture, literature, and music such as paintings, sculptures, musical scores, buildings, novels, poems, etc.
  • Artifacts such as plant specimens, fossils, furniture, tools, clothing, etc. of the time under study

Secondary sources interpret or analyze an event or subject. Examples of secondary sources are biographies and journal articles written well after the event or time period under investigation.

Primary Sources at African Studies Library


Field book from an African expedition, AMNH Mammalogy Archives, photo courtesy of Vicky Steeves and the American Museum of Natural History

BU's African Studies Library  have significant primary resource materials related to cultural, linguistic & social anthropological works in Africa This include:

  • Field notes by Anthropologists
  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • Correspondence, letters
  • Speeches, interviews
  • Photographs, works of art
  • Audio and video recording

Some are digitized and are available online and many others are kept in folders with the possibility of digitization as needed.

Primary Sources Online