British slave traders were active along the West coast of Africa from the early 1700s, and in the early 1800s English missionaries ventured into the interior of the continent. But English interest in Sub-Saharan Africa began in earnest with the scramble of European nations to establish colonial domains on the continent in the second half of the 19th century. Interest in the largely uncharted continent intensified in the wake of Livingstone’s explorations and with the growing awareness of the region’s wealth of mineral resources, particularly gold and diamonds, and its value as a source of ivory. By 1900 Britain controlled a vast amount of territory in Africa, including much of what today is Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania in East Africa; in West Africa the Gold Coast, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Niger, Lagos, and the Sudan; and in the South the Cape Colony, Orange Free State, the Transvaal, and beyond.
We present here a small selection of the many primary source materials held by the Center for Research Libraries that document the range and nature of English activities and interests on the continent in the early colonial period. Many of these materials were identified and preserved through the efforts of the Cooperative Africana Microform Project (CAMP). For more than 40 years CAMP’s efforts have ensured the survival and availability of critical African heritage, history, and knowledge. CAMP collections are maintained and available for use through the Center for Research Libraries.