International African Institute

Scope and Content

Minutes of the Executive Council and other committees; accounts; central memoranda and correspondence; projects and reports on subjects including the Ethnographic Survey of Africa, Industrialisation, Pan African Exchange, Food Supply in Gambia, West African Museums and Somali Refugees; papers concerning seminars; research works submitted to the IAI for consideration, some smaller research projects, and Nigerian intelligence reports, some of which touch on Cameroon; proofs and correspondence relating to IAI publications; printed publications; material relating to other organisations such as UNESCO, the Ford Foundation, and the United Nations Organisation; and general correspondence.

Administrative / Biographical History

The IAI was founded in 1926 as the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures. It is governed by a council representing a balance between African and non African countries. The IAI's principle aim is "to promote the education of the public in the study of Africa and its languages and cultures". Its activities range from supporting seminars and other means of disseminating knowledge within and about Africa, to a range of publications, which include an international journal, monographs by distinguished authorities on African society and edited volumes. In recent years the Institute has extended its activities to encourage projects concerned with stimulating scholarship within Africa.


This collection is arranged in 42 sections:
Minutes: 1. Executive Council, 1924-1989; 2. Bureau, 1931-1950; 3. Officers', 1971-1986; 4. Publications Committee, 1926-1981; 5. Business Committee, 1926-1981; 6. General.

Accounts: 7. Accounts, 1927-1986.

Memoranda: 8. Central memoranda/correspondence, 1925-1945; 9. Central memoranda/correspondence, 1947-1969; 10. Central memoranda/correspondence, 1970-1981; 11. Central memoranda/correspondence, 1980-1988; 12. Directors' material (Daryll Forde, David Dalby, I M Lewis), 1960-1986; 13. General and publications memoranda, 1934-1987.
14. Registers of members, 1927-1980.
15. Photographs, 1930 -1980,

Projects/Reports: 16. Ethnographic Survey of Africa, 1944-1978; 17. Industrialisation Material, 1950-1955; 18. Pan African Exchange, 1976-1979; 19. Food Supply in Gambia, 1980-1982; 20. West African Museums Project, 1982-1986; 21. Somali Refugees Project, 1981-1988; 22. IAI: other reports, 1964-1986.

Seminars: 23. Seminars, 1952-1990.

Research: 24. Research, 1946-1990; 25. Nigerian Intelligence Reports, 1910-1956.

Publications: 26. Proofs, etc., 1940-1980; 27. Correspondence on Africa, 1970-1976; 28. Correspondence on African Abstracts, 1954-1974; 29. Correspondence on African Languages, 1974-1979; 30. Correspondence on the IAI Bulletin, 1974-1980; 31. Printed publications and press cuttings, 1926-1989.

Other Organisations: 32. UNESCO, 1948-1973; 33. UNESCO memoranda/correspondence, 1948-1949; 34. United Nations Organisation, 1948-1977; 35. Ford Foundation, 1926-1985; 36. Other Organisations, 1945-1985.

Correspondence, 1927-1991: 37. A-C; 38. D-G; 39. H-L; 40. M-P; 41. Q-S; 42. T-Z.

Access Information

Mainly open; some items closed

Other Finding Aids

Detailed catalogue available from Archives staff

Archivist's Note

Output from CAIRS using template 14 and checked by hand on March 27, 2002; updated Apr 2008

Conditions Governing Use



There have been two significant further deposits by the IAI: Archives of the IAI, and recent correspondence files,1970-1980 (148 boxes) were given in 1992; papers of the International African Institute, including Carol Priestley's day files and files on IAI, 1990-1997 (13 boxes) were given in 1998.