African History and Culture


‘Wild Men of the Woods’: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The January release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes three nineteenth-century tales of African exploration and discovery told by an Englishman, a French-American, and an American.


The Narrative of an Explorer in Tropical South Africa (1853)

By Francis Galton, Esq.

Galton traveller.jpg

Sir Francis Galton (1822-1911) was an English polymath whose areas of knowledge included statistics, sociology and psychology, and anthropology and eugenics. Galton’s curriculum vitae also includes tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, and meteorologist. Among his many “firsts: were creating the statistical concept of correlation, coining the phrase “nature versus nurture,” devising a fingerprint classification method, and mapping the previous day’s weather. His wide array of interests ranged from researching the power of prayer (he concluded it had none) to discovering the optimal manner of making tea.

However, Galton was limited in his beliefs toward the peoples of Africa. In describing the Damara, his prejudices are difficult to overlook:

‘Wild Men of the Woods’: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

African Studies: Explore New Online Resources for Teaching and Research at the 2016 African Studies Association Meeting

ASA-Banner%2059%20ANNUAL%20MEETING.jpgReadex is exhibiting its newest African Studies resources at the 59th Annual Meeting of the African Studies Association (ASA) in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 1 to 3, 2016.  Please visit booth 209 to explore online collections of digitized newspapers and books covering centuries of African history and culture.  If not attending, please use the links below to request a trial for your institution. To arrange a meeting with a Readex representative during ASA, please click here.


productbanner-AfricanHistory-v3.jpgAfrican History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia

African Studies: Explore New Online Resources for Teaching and Research at the 2016 African Studies Association Meeting

“That Execrable Sum of All Villainies”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The June release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes narratives by both a British Army cavalryman and the British Army’s Commander-in-Chief. Also found in this release is an account by an Austrian explorer who was one of the first Europeans to visit Lake Turkana in the Kenyan Rift Valley.  


 

Travels in Western Africa, in 1845 & 1846 (1847) 

By John Duncan 

Scotsman John Duncan served in the British Army’s cavalry and journeyed twice to Africa. During the Niger expedition of 1841 he was struck with a poisoned arrow and suffered from fever but was undaunted. He returned to Africa in 1845 and traveled “from Whydah, through the kingdom of Dahomey, to Adofoodia, in the interior.” 

Duncan uses a regrettable tone to describe some of the peoples he encounters, declaring the Fantee “of all the Africans I have yet seen the laziest and dirtiest….They are remarkably dull of comprehension, and, unless constantly watched, will lie down and do nothing.” Nor is he impressed by their superstition-based approach to medicine. However, Duncan is most disturbed by their exuberant celebrations, writing:  

“That Execrable Sum of All Villainies”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“Bewitching matter”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

Included in the latest release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921, are these illustrated works from the holdings of the Library Company of Philadelphia:

· a four-volume examination of the Moors, Wolofs and other ethnic groups;

· an early 19th-century account of Southern Africa by a resident;

· and a description of “three years’ travels and adventures in the unexplored regions of Central Africa from 1868 to 1871.” 


 The World in Miniature: Africa (1821) 

Edited by Frederic Shoberl 

“Bewitching matter”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“Power, Grandeur, and Oppression”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The February release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a compilation of travel literature written by several African explorers and two multi-volume works by Edward Delaval Hungerford Elers Napier. 


The Modern Traveller (1800)  

By William Fordyce Mavor 

William Fordyce Mavor (1758-1837) was a teacher, politician, and priest. Introducing his four volumes of travel literature, Mavor writes: 

Valuable as these productions are, yet the size and expense of the volumes preclude many readers of curiosity, intelligence, and knowledge, from being able conveniently to purchase such sources of gratification….To accommodate those who may be desirous of being acquainted with modern discoveries, without choosing to be at such an expense, the object of the present publication is to present, in an abridged form, the most remarkable travels and voyages, which have recently afforded important accessions to our acquaintance with countries and mankind. 

“Power, Grandeur, and Oppression”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“A Wild and Dismal Lament”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The December release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a collection of works arranged as a travel narrative by Catherine Hutton and two multi-volume publications by Richard Lemon Lander, explorer of western Africa.


The Tour of Africa (1819)

Arranged by Catherine Hutton

Catherine Hutton was a novelist, historian, and prolific letter-writer and receiver; over her 90 years she amassed a collection of over 2,000 letters from a wide array of correspondents. Her interest in such a diversity of perspectives is reflected in her approach to The Tour of Africa:

The design of the following work is to assemble together all that is most interesting relative to Africa; to bring whatever may have been described by different travelers, or mentioned at various times by the same traveler, into one point of view; and to form the whole into a regular narrative. It appeared to me that these objects would be best attained by creating an imaginary traveler, who should speak in his own person. I am aware that truth and fiction should not be mingled, and I have not mingled them. They are distinct, though they constantly appear together; the traveler himself being ideal, and all he recounts true, as far as the best authors can be relied upon.

This three-volume compilation contains accounts “of all the countries in that quarter of the globe, hitherto visited by Europeans; with the manners and customs of the inhabitants.”

Below are two of the maps Hutton includes:

“A Wild and Dismal Lament”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“The Torrid Zone”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The November release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes a 17th-century magnum opus and a turn of the 18th-century scholar’s compilation of hundreds of works, both of which attempt to describe their entire known worlds. Also in this release is a history of trade with Africa which contains the texts of several ancient treaties.


Cosmography, in Four Books: Containing the Chorography and History of the Whole World, and All the Principal Kingdoms, Provinces, Seas, and Isles Thereof (1670)

By Peter Heylyn

In this ambitious 17th-century work English scholar Peter Heylyn attempts to give a detailed account of nearly every aspect of the world. Writing about Africa, he describes the origins of the continent’s name:

By the Grecians it is called most commonly Lybia…part of it taken for the whole; by the Ethiopians, Alkebulam; by the Indians, Besecath. But the most noted name thereof is Africa, which Josephus out of Cleodenus and Polyhistor, deriveth from Epher, or Apher, one of the Nephews of Abraham, by Midian the Son of Keturah. The Arabians, by whom it is called Ifrichea, derive it from the Verb Faruch, signifying to divide; because more visibly divided both from their own Country, and the rest of the World, than any other part thereof which was known unto them.

“The Torrid Zone”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

“Mingled Puerility and Brutality”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The September release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes several multi-volume works detailing various regions and peoples of Africa.


Maritime Geography and Statistics: A Description of the Ocean and its Coasts, Maritime Commerce, Navigation, &c. &c. &c. (1815)

By James Hingston Tuckey, a commander in the Royal Navy

James Hingston Tuckey’s four-volume work is a tour de force describing the world’s oceans and coasts. Tuckey, born in 1776, joined the Royal Navy in 1793 and by the turn of the century was assisting in the expansion of the British colony of New South Wales in Australia. In 1805, after having returned briefly to England, Tuckey was captured by the French near St. Helena in the South Atlantic and held prisoner for nearly nine years. If not for his imprisonment, it is unlikely that Tuckey’s Maritime Geography and Statistics would have been written:

If it should be asked how a naval officer could, during the activity of war, find leisure to compile a work requiring the perusal of many thousand volumes, the answer is unfortunately too ready: it was undertaken to pass away the tedious hours of a hopeless captivity, alike destructive of present happiness and future prospects.

In Volume II, Tuckey turns his attention to the coast of West Africa, writing:

After passing the limits of Morocco, the first nation met with is the Moors of the Desert, who inhabit the coast from Cape Agulon to the Senegal, and form three tribes. Though they acknowledge the Emperor of Morocco as their sovereign, they are in every respect independent of his government or power. They lead an erratic life, their habitations being conical tents of cloth manufactured of camel’s hair, which they move about in search of pasture for their cattle.

“Mingled Puerility and Brutality”: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The West African Coffin-Squadron: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

From African History and CultureThe August release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes multi-volume illustrated works by 19th-century Englishmen who detail their extensive explorations of Africa.


Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery to Africa and Arabia (1835)

By Captain Thomas Boteler, R.N.

From 1821 to 1826, Captain Thomas Boteler of the Royal Navy served as a member of an expedition to survey the eastern coast of Africa, during which time “he commenced a journal for his own amusement, and afterwards continued it with a view to publication.” Due to a series of tragedies, his work was published posthumously, nearly ten years after the expedition had ended. The editor of Boteler’s work offers this biographical information:

 At a very early age Mr. Boteler entered the naval service, with a degree of ardor and enthusiasm seldom if ever surpassed, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant on the 5th October 1816. He continued actively employed in the West Indies till the end of 1818, when he returned to his family; but, soon tiring of a life of inactivity, he undertook a pedestrian tour through France and Italy, during which his enterprising mind was employed in acquiring information, and in perfecting himself in the French and Italian languages.

From African History and Culture

The West African Coffin-Squadron: Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

Ascent of the White Nile and Other Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

The June release of African History and Culture, 1540-1921: Imprints from the Library Company of Philadelphia includes perspectives from an Irish pastor in Western Africa, the biography of a Dutch heiress who explored North Africa, and the views of an English soldier in Central Africa.


Missions in Western Africa, among the Soosoos, Bulloms, &c. (1845)

By Rev. Samuel Abraham Walker

Reverend Samuel Abraham Walker described himself as “a man unknown to fame, and of no higher standing in the Church, or the world, than the pastor of a small rural parish in Ireland.” Walker felt duty bound to become a missionary and offered this justification for choosing to work in West Africa:

It is impossible, I conceive, to overrate the importance of our West African Mission: its effects, if the Lord continues to bless it, will be gigantic. In other countries the Gospel merely calls out members of the Church; but in Africa it is enlisting whole regiments of Missionary soldiers, and sending them forth armed and accoutered, to engage in deadly conflict with the demon of superstition, crime, and death; and the facilities afforded for this particular work are among the most remarkable evidences of providential arrangement which the history of the Church of Christ supplies.

Walker’s tome tells of the peoples of West Africa, offers a history of slavery, and recounts, in Walker’s words, “What attempts have been made in modern times to make Christ known to the natives of this vast continent?”

True to his cause, Walker saw Christianity as a panacea. Expounding on the power found in the Christian will and in the word of God, Walker wrote:

Ascent of the White Nile and Other Highlights from African History and Culture, 1540-1921

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