Papers of William McGregor and Isabel Ross, 1899-1939

Scope and Content

Reports and correspondence of and relating to the Public works Department, andother correspondence of William McGregor Ross, 1905-1939; report on the TanaRiver, Kenya, etc., 1909; draft manuscript of Kenyafrom within: a short political history by William McGregor Ross(London, Allen&Unwin, 1927); miscellaneous papers, 1900-1935; miscellaneouspublished reports and papers, including reports on the Uganda Railway, 1899-1929.

Administrative / Biographical History

William McGregor Ross (1876-1940) travelled to British East Africa in 1900, where he worked for threeyears as an assistant engineer on the Uganda Railway, then as engineer in chargeof laying on a water supply to Nairobi. In 1904 he was made Director of PublicWorks, East Africa Protectorate, a post he held until 1923 and during aCommission of Enquiry into the working of his department. From 1916 to 1922he served as an ex officio member of the Legislative Council of the East AfricaProtectorate. Retiring in 1922, Ross returned to England, where he maintained aninterest in African affairs, publishing Kenya fromwithin: a short political history (London, Allen & Unwin, 1927). He was also involved in Labour Party politics and was theBritish workers' delegate to the Forced Labour Committee at the InternationalLabour Conference in Geneva, 1929. He was a member of the Mandates Committeeof the League of Nations Union and gave evidence to the Joint Select Committeeon East Africa, 1930-1931. In 1915 he married Isabel Abraham (1885-1964), ahistory teacher at Wellington High School for Girls, who had been living withhis sister, Nellie Ross, for several years. In Kenya she pursued her interestin women's movements and politics, co-ordinating the East African Women's Leaguein 1917. She was instrumental in obtaining the vote for European women inelections to the Legislative Council in 1919. They had two sons, both born inKenya.

Conditions Governing Access

Bodleian reader's ticket required.


Collection level description created by Paul Davidson, Bodleian Library of Commonwealth and African Studies at Rhodes House.

Other Finding Aids

Listed as no. 117 in Manuscript Collections ofAfricana in Rhodes House Library Oxford, Supplement, compiled by LouisB. Frewer (Oxford, Bodleian Library, 1971). A handlist is also available in the library reading room.

Conditions Governing Use

No reproduction or publication of personal papers without permission. Contact the library in the first instance.

Related Material

Letters written home during service in British East Africa/Kenya, withdemi-official and personal correspondence relating to service in the PublicWorks Department, with associated photographs, etc., [1894-1952] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 1876);diaries, correspondence, etc. [1890-1964], with papers relating to Charles Freer Andrews,[1919-1940] (ref. MSS. Afr. s. 2305).

Geographical Names