Cataloging Rare Africana Publications

Publications are first sorted and boxed in preparation for cataloging.

Publications are first sorted and boxed
in preparation for cataloging.

As part of a three year project to organize the records of the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) and The Africa Fund, funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Center is currently cataloging approximately 130 boxes of books, pamphlets, student publications, newspapers, newsletters, and similar works collected by members of ACOA and The Africa Fund. A significant number of the titles being cataloged at Amistad are not held in libraries in the United States or by very few U.S. libraries. When complete, this collection of Africana publications will represent a substantial resource for researchers interested in anti-apartheid and anti-colonial efforts across the continent, international support for anti-divestment campaigns, and such topics as health, education, development, and political movements.

Cataloger Laura Chilton adds a new title to the catalog.

Cataloger Laura Chilton adds a new
title to the catalog.

The records of both organizations provide a detailed view of the workings of these two related organizations that worked to educate the U.S. populace on issues confronting the African continent and to influence business leaders, government officials, and policymakers to support anti-colonial and anti-apartheid movements, as well as efforts to bring to light U.S. and international corporate involvement with repressive regimes. To accomplish these goals, members and staffs of the organizations collected printed material published by liberation organizations, student groups, political offices, and support networks throughout Africa and beyond. These books and periodicals will form the library portion of the American Committee on Africa and Africa Fund records.

Amistad’s cataloger, Laura Chilton, and Director of Library and Reference Services, Christopher Harter, are working to organize the boxes of publications and add Amistad’s holdings to OCLC’s national Worldcat database and to the Tulane University library catalog. To date, a number of interesting titles have been added to Amistad’s holdings. A few highlights are below:

Ants: A New Magazine for All Children, was a children’s magazine published during the early 1980s in Zimbabwe. It included stories and poems written by children, games and puzzles, comics, and, well, ants! Amistad’s run of the first four issues (of 12 published) is one of only two reported in Worldcat and the only one in the United States.

The collection also includes a growing number of U.S. Congressional reports and hearing transcripts regarding aid to African countries, sanctions against particular governments, and related topics.

Angola in Arms was the organ of information of the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola) based in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. This publication is one of the many newsletters and bulletins published by anti-colonial groups that are found within Amistad’s collection.


From time to time, we will highlight additional titles as they are cataloged. In the meantime. researchers can search the ACOA/Africa Fund library here. Click on the “catalog” tab and type “From the American Committee on Africa/Africa Fund records” within quotes into the search box to isolate and browse titles in the collection. More are being added each week so check back often.

Posted by Christopher Harter

(Images from the Amistad Research Center. May not be reproduced without permission.)

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