Papers of Leonard John Barnes

Scope and Content

The collection comprises the books, articles, unpublished manuscripts, reports, travel notebooks and some correspondence of Leonard John Barnes. The majority of papers in the collection relate to his interests in Africa, though there are also some papers relating to his educational work.

Administrative / Biographical History

Leonard John Barnes was born in London on 21 July 1895. He was educated at St. Paul's School in Hammersmith and served in the First World War in the King's Royal Rifle Corps. He was wounded three times and awarded the Military Cross with bar. In 1919 he went to University College, Oxford. Following the completion of his degree he entered the Colonial Office for a short time. He then went to South Africa, where he worked as a farmer, and later as a journalist in Cape Town. He returned to England in 1932 and wrote The New Boer War documenting his experiences overseas. Barnes concentrated on his writing on colonial and development issues until in 1936 he was appointed lecturer in education at the University of Liverpool. In 1943 he married Margaret (Peggy). Barnes was a member of the Carr-Saunders Commission to Malaya in the late 1940's to enquire into education provision and the foundation of a university. In 1947 the Barnes' moved to Oxford following his appointment as Secretary and Director of the Delegacy for Social Training in Oxford University (later the Department of Social and Administrative Studies). Barnes stayed at Oxford until his retirement in 1962.

Following his retirement, he visited Central and East Africa several times under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission. He was employed as a consultant to examine how African countries were coping with modernisation and sociological problems. In 1973 he was invited by Kenneth Kaunda to report on Zambia's political and economic problems, resulting in Zambia 1973: Comment and Appraisal . He was a prolific writer, publishing a large number of books on the situation in Africa, educational problems, the Empire and the Commonwealth. He also wrote poetry and biographical material. He died on 10 March 1977.


The collection is arranged into the following classes: published books written by Leonard Barnes; published books to which Leonard Barnes contributed; published books in which Leonard Barnes is mentioned; journal articles by Leonard Barnes; reports in which Leonard Barnes was involved; bound manuscripts relating to Africa; bound and unbound manuscripts relating to various topics including education, society and Africa; notebooks and rough notes for books; notes and writings on visits to Africa; general and miscellaneous notes; correspondence.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Donated in 1977. The material was presented by Leonard Barnes' widow in 1977.

Other Finding Aids

Unpublished handlist.

Conditions Governing Use

For permission to publish, please contact Archives & Special Collections, SOAS Library in the first instance