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African History: Precolonial Period

Tips for Finding Articles

Articles about this subject can be found in publications from a wide variety of disciplines. Use the databases on this page to get access to thousands of articles examining the subject from different perspectives or browse the key publications shown.

If the full text of an article is not available in a database, click on the sfxfind icon to find other options for getting the article.

Research Challenges.

As you begin your research, keep in mind these handy tips:  

Ethiopian Book of Prayer in Ge'ez

  • Search place names/kingdoms for the period of interest.
    Example:  The capital city of Mozambique is known today as Maputo. During the colonial period it was named Lourenço Marques and prior to colonization, the trading post was known as Delagoa Bay.
    Other examples of early place names: Gold Coast, Monomatapa
  • Spelling variations:  the names of people, places, etc. may vary in their spelling.  Examples: Tuareg  vs.  Touareg;   Songhai (also written as Songhai) Empire;   Ashanti (or Asante) Empire. 
  • Many search interfaces allow you to narrow your results by year / decade. Be sure to use this when searching for primary resources. 

Research Across Disciplines

In many cases, written records of pre-colonial Africa are few and far between. In order to be as comprehensive as possible in one's research, it may be necessary to tap into a variety of different disciplines, including: 



Head, African Studies Library

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Beth Restrick
African Studies Library
6th floor, Mugar Memorial Library

Mon-Fri, 9am- 5pm
Subjects: African Studies