Papers of Dr Archibald Norman Tucker

Scope and Content

The collection comprises chiefly the language work of Archibald Tucker on both East African and Bantu languages. Miscellaneous material includes press cuttings (1898-1902) chronicling the Boer War and papers on the Ozuitem Ibo people of Owerri Province. One box of additional papers relates to material found in the SOAS Music Department in 2007: primarily correspondence to and from Tucker, academic research papers, and papers reflecting Tucker's involvement with committees at SOAS and the Royal Anthopological Institute.

Administrative / Biographical History

Archibald Norman Tucker was born in Cape Town on 10 March 1904. He was educated at South African College School. He obtained his MA from the University of Cape Town in 1926, his PhD from the University of London in 1929, and later also his DLit, in 1949.

He worked as Linguistic Expert of non-Arabic languages for the Sudan Government from 1929 to 1931. In 1932 he became Reader at the School of Oriental and African Studies. He was an active member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and a Conscientious Objector during World War II.

Much of his language work was concerned with orthographic research, which he undertook in both Uganda and Kenya (on Ganda and Kikuyu respectively). He organised and directed an orthography conference in Western Uganda in 1954, and, prior to that, in 1949-1951, he supervised a Bantu line expedition in the Belgian Congo for the International African Institute. Archibald Tucker was married. He died on 16 July 1980.

His publications include Suggestions for the Spelling of Transvaal Sesuto , (1929); The Eastern Sudanic Languages , Vol.1, (1940); Swahili Phoentics , (1942); M.A. Bryan & A.N. Tucker, Distribution of the Nilotic ad Nilo-Hamitic Languages of Africa , (1948); A Maasai Grammar with Vocabulary , (1955); Linguistic Survey of the Northern Bantu Borderland , Vol.4, (1957); A.N. Tucker & M.A. Bryan, Linguistic Analyses: The Non-Bantu Languages of North-Eastern Africa , (1966); The Comparative Phonetics of the Suto-Chuana Group of Bantu Languages , (1969); A Grammar of Kenya Luo (Dholuo) , (1994), and Tribal Music and Dancing in the Southern Sudan (Africa), at Social and Ceremonial Gatherings .


The collection of papers is arranged in three sections. The first is language material, listed alphabetically by language name, and the second, miscellaneous items of social and political concern. There is an index in the handlist, which gives cross-references for language names (largely referring to dialects). The third section covers additional papers on Tucker located in 2007.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Internal SOAS transfer in 1992.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist

Related Material

Related Collections at SOAS: Guthrie, Malcom [ref. PP MS 27] Hackett, Peter [ref. MS 380514] Werner, Alice [ref. MS 380393].