Confidential Print: Africa, 1834-1966

Sources from The National Archives, UK

Complete volumes of all British Government Confidential Print for Africa, from the Colonial, Dominion, Foreign and War Offices.

From coastal trading in the early nineteenth century, through the Conference of Berlin of 1884 and the subsequent Scramble for Africa, to the abuses of the Congo Free State, fights against tropical disease, Italy's defeat by the Abyssinians, World War II, apartheid in South Africa and colonial moves towards independence, this resource covers the modern period of European colonization of the continent. These government documents are essential sources for the study of African history and the understanding of Africa today.

This resource provides scholars with unprecedented online access to the United Kingdom’s confidential correspondence covering almost the entire period of European conquest and colonisation of Africa.
Professor Jeremy Martens, University of Western Australia

Confidential Print: Africa, 1834-1966 is part of Archives Direct, a cross-searchable multi-product platform, sourced from The National Archives, UK.

Key Data

Period Covered

  • 1834-1966


  • The official war diaries of the governor of Natal (Sir Walter Hely-Hutchinson) and high commissioner for Southern Africa (Sir Alfred Milner) (1899-1900)
  • British use of concentration camps in the Second Boer War
  • The first and second Moroccan Crises and the narrow avoidance of European war
  • The future of the former German colonies in Africa after the First World War
  • Labour issues in the 1920s, including traffic of labour between Liberia and Spanish Guinea, and women and forced labour in British colonies
  • Mussolini’s conquest of Abyssinia and Abyssinian resistance
  • The policies of the South African government towards non- whites and the formalisation of apartheid

Source Archive

  • The National Archives, UK

Material Types

  • Ingoing and outgoing diplomatic dispatches
  • Statistical charts and tables
  • Accounts of tours
  • Profiles of leading political, military and economic figures
  • Correspondence
  • Maps
  • Minutes of meetings and conferences
  • Texts of treaties

Editorial Board

  • Greg Cuthbertson, University of South Africa
  • Mamadou Diouf, Columbia University Michel Doortmont, University of Groningen
  • Joanna Lewis, London School of Economics
  • Peter Limb, Michigan State University
  • Donal Lowry, Oxford Brookes University
  • Wunyabari Maloba, University of Delaware
  • Jeremy Martens, University of Western Australia


  • Administration
  • Agriculture
  • Alcohol
  • Anti-Foreign Sentiment
  • Britain's Rivals for Influence in Africa
  • Commercial and Trade Negotiations
  • Developing British Influence in Africa
  • Development of Infrastructure
  • Education
  • Environmental Protection
  • Establishment and Development of the Commonwealth
  • Frontier Disputes
  • Immigration to the United Kingdom
  • Industrial and Mining Development
  • International Conferences
  • Military and Intelligence Matters
  • Political and Constitutional Change
  • Public Health and Medicine
  • Relations between the United Kingdom and the Emerging Dominions
  • Scandals Regarding Treatment of Workers
  • Women

Key Features

  • Available within the cross-searchable Archives Direct platform
  • Full-text searchable
  • Map Gallery
  • Pre-populated searches for key people, places and topics


Recommended. Research libraries with an extensive Africana collection; lower-level undergraduates through researchers/faculty

This archive is a compilation of "Confidential Print"--significant documents issued by and circulated within the British Foreign and Colonial Offices and among high officials concerning Africa (excluding Egypt) during ......