Africa Research Central has as its goal to centralize and constantly update information about institutions with African primary source collections so as to facilitate international research in African Studies. Research in African primary sources–be they records, manuscripts, personal papers, photographs, film, or artifacts– has posed challenges to the research community since the dawn of African Studies as a discipline. Scholars outside Africa struggle to learn about the holdings, services, and clearance procedures of African repositories, while scholars within Africa must cope with the fact that much of the African primary source heritage is housed beyond the borders of Africa. The core of the site is the Repositories section with its searchable database of African archives, libraries and museums with primary source collections. Although far from comprehensive, links to the web sites of North American and European repositories are also provided.
In addition to helping researchers, Africa Research Central also assists Africa Facts repositories in the urgent task of preserving African primary sources. A growing number of African institutions have made their preservation needs known to Africa Research Central and may be searched easily in the Repository Wish List located in the Preservation section. In the same section, African institutions may search the International Funding Agencies database to locate possible international funders.
What’s New in the 2004 release
Africa Research Central, first launched in 1998, has been refreshed with data gathered in the course of a major new survey of repositories during 2003-04, thanks to the generous support of California State University, Fullerton. In addition to updating and expanding the contact, access and collections information in the Repositories section, thousands of pages of finding aids, guides, brochures, and other materials received in the course of 2003-04 have been linked to the relevant repository records. The preservation needs information in the Repository Wish List section of the site has also been greatly expanded. In addition, a new database of international funding agencies has been added to the Preservation section of the site in an effort to assist African institutions identify potential funders.
Susan Tschabrun has a Ph.D. in African history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a M.L.S. from the University of California at Los Angeles and has done archival research on African history in Khartoum, Wad Medani, London and Durham. She has completed professional training in archival management and preservation, and has served as archivist for a non-profit educational archive of international poster art (Center for the Study of Political Graphics, Los Angeles, California). She is currently the Coordinator of Library Instruction at California State University, Fullerton.
Kathryn Green has a Ph.D. in African history from Indiana University and has done archival research on African history in London, Paris, Dakar, Abidjan, Ferkessedougou (Côte d’Ivoire), Ouagadougou, Bobo Dioulasso and Bamako. She is currently researching the role of archives and museums, and their formation, in the process of nation-building and democratization in Africa.
Thanks also to Seydou Camara (translation, data entry and scanning), Evans Kahuthu (data entry and scanning), Jason Beers (graphic design) and Alton Pelowski (Cold Fusion) for their assistance on this project.
Since its first release in 1998, Africa Research Central has gained recognition as an important scholarly and educational resource in African Studies.