Africana Personal Papers at Indiana University: Issues and Questions

Article excerpt

Indiana University (IU) owns several collections of Africana personal papers. In this presentation, I will discuss this conference's theme, that is the research potential of such papers, from a librarian's perspective, based on my work with those collections, and based on research which resulted from this work.

First, a brief overview of IU's collections of personal papers:2

While IU's Africana collection in the Wells Library (i.e., the main library) is primarily a working collection, it also includes several collections of personal papers. Probably the most notable among them is the

* H.K. Banda Archive: this archive, dating mostly from the 1950s to the 1990s, was given to us by Dr. Don Brody, the late President Banda's official biographer. It includes published and unpublished correspondence, speeches, manuscripts, diaries, and extensive background information about Southern and Central Africa (including Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa) as well as videos, audio cassettes, photographs, and fabrics. We have a finding aid for the archive on the African Studies Collection's website:

http:/ /www.libraries.iub.edu /index. php?pageld=1000481 We are currently in the process of digitising a small set of the collection (mainly correspondence and photographs) as a pilot project which hopefully will lead to a grant proposal to digitise the complete archive.

* Nuer Field Notes (http:/ /www.dlib.indiana.edu/collections/nuer/ ):

This collection was given to us by a former missionary to South Sudan, Ms. Eleanor Vandevort. Ms. Vandevort was in South Sudan between 1949 and 1963. The collection is comprised of linguistic field notes on the Nuer language, correspondence, slides, as well as a scanned copy of her ethnographic monograph, A Leopard Tamed: the Story of an African Pastor, his People, and his Problems (New York: Harper & Row, 1968). It turned out that the field notes, which had never been published or developed into a publication by Ms. Vandevort, were a unique contribution to the field of Nuer linguistics, and I was able to obtain grant money to digitise the whole collection. A colleague of mine, Dr. Edward Miner (who is now the International Studies bibliographer at the University of Iowa) and I worked on the project together, and, in addition to digitising the collection, we also included an essay on the missionary and linguistic history of South Sudan (by Dr. Miner); and I wrote a biographical essay which was based on a three-month long series of interviews I conducted with Ms. Vandevort.

* We have recently received another collection of papers by another missionary to South Sudan, a former colleague of Eleanor Vandevort, Robb McLaughlin. This collection is as yet unprocessed, but we know that it includes published materials on Nuer linguistics, Christian tracts and translations, hymnals, Nuer study materials developed by McLaughlin, his linguistic studies, hand written notes, etc.

These collections are part of the Wells Library's Africana collection and therefore are part of my responsibilities. They came to us as gifts since I have been at IU. Indiana University's rare books library, the Lilly Library, also holds collections of Africana personal papers. Two of them were purchased (Nadine Gordimer papers; Athol Fugard papers), and one was a donation (Andrzejewski papers):

* The Nadine Gordimer Papers :

Initially, the Gordimer collection contained approximately 6,700 items covering the years 1934 to 2001 and consists of correspondence, short stories, novels, articles, lectures and speeches, a childhood diary, notebooks and research materials. Also included are scripts, many adapted from Gordimer's short stories and novels. There is extensive correspondence with her colleagues, literary agents and publishers, including magazines such as The New Yorker where many of her short stories and articles first appeared (see http://www.indiana.edu/-liblilly/guides/gordimer/gord2. …