Access to Africa: The Addendum to the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) Records

The ACOA Records are on the shelves and ready for research.

The ACOA Records are on the shelves and ready for research.

The Amistad Research Center is pleased to announce that the addendum to the records of the American Committee on Africa (ACOA) is now open for research. It is not often that the archivists in the Processing Department get to highlight their work, since many archival and preservation projects entail working on sizable collections that take many months to complete. The full archival arrangement of the American Committee on Africa’s records was completed over the course of twelve months, and the archival team has been privileged to work on such a significant and outstanding collection. This project, “Access to Africana Collections: The American Committee on Africa and The Africa Fund Records,” is designed to feature the records and activities of both organizations, which worked to educate Americans on the legitimacy of African liberation movements and to assist victims of colonial governments in Africa, as well as the emergence of independent African nations. With funding assistance from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR), Amistad has completed the first part of this three-year archival project.

The American Committee on Africa (ACOA) records addendum consists of 138 linear feet of primary source documentation, dating from 1949 to 2001 and covering the era of Africa’s liberation movements against British, Dutch, French, German, and Portuguese colonial powers and their imperialistic policies toward the continent. Researchers will find materials that focus on aspects of both settler and exploitation colonialism, mainly in the African countries of Angola, Guinea Bissau, Namibia, Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), and South Africa. The ACOA records are also very strong in documenting the relationship of the United States with these colonial powers, as well as the government’s policies toward the many minority regimes, political parties, and indigenous peoples in the region. The strengths of the records generated by ACOA’s many “campaigns” is the documentation not only collected from the continent, but also the reporting and testimony done by the organization on the conditions within Africa and its networking activities within the United States and at the United Nations as part of the anti-apartheid movement of the mid-to-late 20th century.

Topics covered within the collection include: anti-apartheid sanctions; consumer and cultural boycotts, demonstrations, and protests; economic conditions and trade; detention, treatment, and release of African political prisoners; human rights violations throughout Africa; liberation movements and post-independence civil wars; and the United States’ policies and legislative actions. Many African political parties and organizations are represented in the records including, Angola’s MPLA (People’s Movement for Liberation of Angola), FNLA (National Front for the Liberation of Angola), and UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola); Mozambique’s FRELIMO (Front for the Liberation of Mozambique); Guinea Bissau’s PAIGC (African Party for the Independence of Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde); Rhodesia’s ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union), ZAPU (Zimbabwe People’s Union), and UANC (United African National Council); and South Africa’s ANC (African National Congress) and PAC (Pan Africanist Congress).

Completion of the ACOA records addendum means that the entirety of the records for the American Committee on Africa are now fulling processed and available for research. The finding aids to the ACOA records can be found online in the Amistad Research Center’s archival finding aid database.

Posted by Laura Thomson

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


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